Gambling regulation

India: Tamil Nadu’s Govt. sets up panel to regulate iGaming following spike in rummy problem gambling

Retired Madras High Court judge Justice K. Chandru, head of the new panel.
Reading time 2:06 min

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday set up a four-member panel headed by retired Madras High Court judge Justice K. Chandru to examine issues related to online gaming. The committee will submit a report within two weeks, and based on the recommendations, the administration of the southern India state will take necessary measures for the promulgation of an ordinance to regulate online gaming.

The newly formed committee will work on several areas such as identifying the online games that are addictive and can lead to financial loss and disastrous consequences. The committee will also study whether these games are really involved in skills or tricks, as reported by INC 42.

Local media reports that online gaming startups, especially fantasy gaming and real money gaming startups, are trying to establish themselves as skill-based games, as the line becomes blurry with betting or online gambling due to the money involved in the game.

The panel will study the adverse effect of online rummy, including financial loss and suicides, where such cases have increased in the state recently. As per media reports, the panel comes in fact merely a few days after a 29-year-old woman in Chennai died by suicide after allegedly losing about INR 10 lakh ($12,832) in online rummy.

While the panel will also examine the need to regulate advertisements promoting online rummy, it must be noted that India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday issued an advisory to media platforms, asking them to refrain from accepting advertisements that promote online betting. 

In its advisory, the ministry noted that advertisements for online betting are "misleading" and they do not "appear to be" in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995, and advertisement norms under the Norms of Journalistic Conduct laid down by the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act, 1978.

The Tamil Nadu government’s emergency committee will also comprise Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras) expert Sankararaman, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, psychiatrist and founder of SNEHA – an NGO for prevention of suicide – and additional director-general of police Vinit Dev Wankhede, the state government said.

"Based on the report of the committee, an ordinance would be promulgated considering the need to find a solution to this issue at once. It would be a model for other states to follow,” the statement, retrieved by Hindustan Times, further explained. The statement also followed a meeting chaired by chief minister M K Stalin on Thursday which took note of many people getting addicted to the game and the recent suicides after people lost their money.

This is not the first time that the Tamil Nadu government has taken steps against online gaming. It banned online games with stakes last year, a decision that was eventually struck down by Madras High Court. The government challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court, however, the apex court is yet to take up the case. 

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