Why TN guv RN Ravi sent back the bill to ban online gambling and how TN govt plans to respond?

In the ongoing political game over banning the online gambling in Tamil Nadu has now gone into a new round with Governor RN Ravi putting the ball on the court of the state government. The bill to ban the online gambling was passed by the government amidst the surging death toll as the people are ending their lives after incurring a huge financial loss by playing the games like online rummy. 

The bill was sent to the Governor's assent last year and shockingly, the bill was left idle at the Governor's office for over 140 days. Ravi had been staunchly criticized by several political parties for not giving his assent to the bill to ban the online gambling before the death toll adds more numbers. However, as Ravi didn't advance the bill, the online gambling had an unhindered reach across the state. 

When the ruling DMK government has urged the Governor to approve the bill, Ravi has now twisted the tale by sending the bill back to the state government. On Wednesday - March 8, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022, was sent back to the government. It has been reported that the Governor has asked the state government to furnish additional information and make certain changes to the bill. 

It is pertinent to note that it is the first time that Governor Ravi has sent back the bill, asking the government to modify the bill with additional information. As he had sent back to the government,  he has been criticized by several leaders who slammed him for not acting on the bill for 140 days. Now, as he sent back the bill, the state government is planning to pass the bill again in the assembly to seek his approval. 

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022, was passed in the assembly on October 19, 2022. On October 1, Governor Ravi has given his assent to this ordinance banning online gambling in the state. However, as he made a delay in approving it, the ordinance got lapsed on November 27. Notably, during the lifespan of the ordinance, the Governor has asked clarifications on the bill for which the government has responded. 

However, as the Governor didn't approve, the bill got lapsed and it was again sent to the Governor. Over four months of remaining under his gamut, Governor Ravi has now and finally turned his attention on the bill and has sent it back again to the government, asking the latter to furnish additional information and make certain changes in the bill. In the meantime, the Governor had on last December met the representatives of E-Gaming Federation.

As the Governor's office didn't divulge the agenda behind the meet, it was reported that Governor had discussed about the online gambling and his meeting had sparked controversy. Though there have been several demands to ban the online gambling including online rummy that has been rampant across the country, the bill didn't make a move for a long time. 

Last year, Chief Minister MK Stalin has constituted a special committee to study the adverse effects of online gambling. The committee was led by retired Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru. The committee had submitted the report in June 2022 and urged the government to enact fresh legislation to regulate online games. Based on the recommendations, the state government has brought an ordinance to ban online gambling and regulate online games. 

Over 45 people have died in Tamil Nadu so far after losing huge money on games such as online rummy. Several political leaders like PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss have been attacking the Governor and holding him responsible for these deaths. Condemning Governor Ravi for sending back the bill, Anbumani has said that his party PMK would hold a huge protest before his office if he fails to assent the bill. 

Speaking about the development, Tamil Nadu Law Minister Ragupathy said that the state government would send the bill again to the Governor by attaching what he has asked for. The minister said, "It is the first time that the Governor has sent back this bill. Firstly, he asked clarifications about the bill and we have responded to him. Now, he has sent back the bill and we will send it back to him with necessary corrections. He has to give his assent. He has no option to deny it for the second time."