TN Governor holds meeting with E-gaming industry representatives : Finance Minister PTR slams

As Tamil Nadu government awaits Governor RN Ravi to assent to the Bill banning online gambling and regulating online games, representatives of the E-Gaming Federation (EGF) met him at Chennai’s Raj Bhavan on December 5, 2022. The agenda of the meeting was unclear as the Raj Bhavan did not issue a formal press release on the Governor holding a meeting with members of the federation.

The state Assembly passed The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 on October 19, 2022. Governor RN Ravi had given his assent to an ordinance banning online gambling on October 1. While the ordinance lapsed on November 27, the Bill is yet to be approved by the Governor.

According to sources, the delegation that met the Governor consisted of Devhuti Bakshi, Director, Public Policy of E-Gaming Federation (EGF), Sanjiv Saddy, Chief Corporate Affairs, Junglee Games, Akshay Gupta, Associate Director, Public Policy, Games 24×7 and Sameer Chugh, Chief Legal Officer of Games 24×7. Other representatives from the E-Gaming industry were also part of the meeting.

EGF, a Mumbai-based not-for-profit organisation to protect consumer interest and self-regulate the Indian e-gaming sector, on October 19, 2022, declared it would challenge the ordinance promulgated by the TN government banning online gambling. The media also spoke to Sameer Barde, Chief Executive Officer of E-Gaming Federation, who confirmed that the meeting revolved around the Bill, but called it a “private meeting.” When asked whether there was an assurance from the Governor, he said he did not want to talk about it.

On December 1, Law Minister S Regupathy along with Home and Law Department secretaries met the Governor at Raj Bhavan to discuss the issues raised by the Governor on the Bill. Addressing the media after the meeting, the Law Minister said that the Bill was still under the consideration of the Governor, “He will give his assent after his doubts are cleared,” he said.

The decision to ban online gambling and regulate online gaming was taken after the Tamil Nadu government constituted a committee led by retired Madras High Court Justice K Chandru to study the adverse effects of online gambling and its impact. The committee submitted its report to the Chief Minister on June 27, 2022, and the report was taken up for discussion in the state cabinet on September 26. The 71-page report strongly advised the government to enact fresh legislation on online games. After considering the recommendations, the Tamil Nadu government decided to bring an ordinance banning online gambling and regulating online games.

Political parties cutting across party lines demanded the government’s intervention to curb online rummy after more than 24 people lost their lives and huge sums of money due to online gambling.

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR) has slammed Governor RN Ravi for meeting representatives of the E-Gaming Federation (EGF) at Chennai’s Raj Bhavan on December 5. “No one told me a special bench (adjudicate prior to notification of a law based on a bill passed by the assembly) had been opened at Guindy. Reminiscent of the we are asking questions NOW because we MAY have to hear a plea IF a law is passed AND it is challenged logic,” PTR said.

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