On the Governor's court again: TN Assembly passes Bill to ban online gambling for the second time!

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to ban the online gambling on Thursday - March 23 for the second time and put the ball on the Governor's court again. The assembly has unanimoulsy re-adopted and passed the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022. The development has come two weeks after Governor RN Ravi returned the Bill back to the assembly. 

As the reason to return the Bill, Governor Ravi asked the state government to furnish additional information and make certain changes. He returned the Bill on March 8, nearly five months after the Bill was tabled before him for his assent. The crucial Bill has been passed at the backdrop of growing suicides in the state as several people end their life after such online games like rummy put them under a deep financial trouble. 

The Bill was passed for the first time in the assembly on October 19, 2022, after the Governor gave his assent to the ordinance to ban the online gambling. However, the Governor didn't approve the Bill and the ordinance got lapsed on November 27. The Bill was in an idling state before the Governor and amidst the growing dissent for his inaction, the Governor returned the Bill back to the assembly earlier this month. 

His decision to return the Bill to the assembly has ramified protests against him and soon after he returned the Bill, the state cabinet had decided to introduce the Bill again. Tamil Nadu Law Minister Raghupathy said that the Bill would be tabled again and any additions made by legislators would also be incorporated. He further said that when a Bill is sent for Governor's assent for the second time, the Governor cannot return it. The Governor was also slammed by several leaders for causing delay over acting on the Bill. 

It has been also been reported that the Bill will be passed for the second time in the ongoing budget session of the Assembly. On Thursday - March 23, Chief Minister MK Stalin introduced the Bill in the Assembly and speaking about the reintroduction, the Chief Minister underlined that several people in the state had died by suicide after losing money to online gambling. 

MK Stalin said, "I am standing here with a heavy heart. 41 people have lost their lives due to online gambling." By citing that the suicide notes of some of the victims urged a ban on online gambling to save the lives of others, the Chief Minister said that the Bill would be sent back to the Governor. "Please pass the Bill unanimously. This is a Bill passed not just with the mind, but also our hearts", he added. He further said, "We might have a difference of opinions in ideologies and politics, but no one with a heart can have a difference of opinion over gambling that kills people."

The Bill was put on the floor and several legislators discussed about it and staunchly criticized the Governor for not giving his assent to the Bill. The Bill was passed unanimously and would be sent to the Governor, who this time, can't return it. Though the law says that the Governor should give assent to the Bill that has been passed for the second time, the Governor enjoys a liberty that there is no specific framework that asks the Governor to assent the Bill within a timeline. 

After DMK came to power in 2021, the MK Stalin administration has set up a committee under the chairmanship of retired Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru with the motive of studying the adverse effects of online gambling. The committee has submitted a 71-page report on June 27, 2022, in which it has strongly recommended the government to enact fresh legislation to regulate online games. Based on the recommendations, the government has introduced a legislation, which has now been sent to the Governor for his assent for the second time.