After a decade of back and forth regarding the laws on gambling, the Madras High Court has made the decision to ban poker along with all online games that involve betting and gambling. The court’s ruling puts Tamil Nadu in the growing list of states completely banning online gambling. The ruling means that online poker, rummy, and other betting websites are no longer legal in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Judges B. Pugalendhi and N. Kirubakaran of the Madras High Court ruled that online gambling should be regulated or banned. However, the AIADMK government, headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami decided to go with the former. The vote for a complete ban instead of regulating the activities means that many legal operators in the state will be forced to withdraw from the region.
The ruling also means that anyone caught playing within the state can be fined up to INR 9,900 (USD 135) or imprisoned for two years, or both. Cyber cafes have also been categorized as common gaming houses where gambling or gaming activities take place. The penalties for operating these common gaming houses have also been increased.
The decision to rule in favour of the ban was also pushed due to the various reports of gambling related deaths and suicides. The state of Tamil Nadu has lately seen a rise in these incidents prompting many to file petitions against online gambling. While regulation of the sector would have proven to be beneficial for the state it seems that a ban is a more favourable option as of now.
Although this is bad news for the online poker industry, there is still a sliver lining. The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 which is an amendment of the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act 1930, the law does prohibit online gambling, but it makes an exception for games of skills. Therefore, it is now up to poker operators to prove to the law makers that poker is indeed a game of skill and not chance.
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