In another setback to India’s budding online gaming industry, fantasy sports, involving the electronic transfer of funds for placing bets, distributing the winnings of games or any other prize money related to online games, is now a punishable offence in the state of Tamil Nadu. Online games like rummy and poker involving betting shall also invite imprisonment up to two years or fine not exceeding Rs 10,000 or both, according to an amendment Bill introduced in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday seeking to replace an ordinance banning cyberspace gambling.
The residents of the state will no more be able to play and earn money on fantasy sports platforms like Dream11, MyTeam11, MPL etc. The law is effective from 3 PM Saturday (February 6).
According to the new laws in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, no person shall ‘wager’ or ‘bet’ in games like rummy or similar games played online using ‘computers’ or ‘any communication device’ or any other instrument of gaming, the Bill said.. Also, no one shall facilitate or organise such games involving gambling in the cyberspace.
As part of the amendment passed by the state of Tamil Nadu, certain changes have been made to the state’s Gaming Act and as the companies are trying to clarify the exact impact of the changes, but for now, all residents of Tamil Nadu will not be able to join pay-to-play contests on sites/applications like Dream11.
Gaming does not include a lottery, but includes any game involving wagering or betting in person or in cyberspace.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill said: “Playing games like Rummy, Poker etc., using computers or mobile phones for money or other stakes which are addictive in nature had developed manifold in the recent times.
As a result, innocent people got cheated and incidents of suicide were reported. In order to prevent such incidents of suicide and protect innocent people from the evils of online gaming, it was decided to ban wagering or betting in cyber space by suitably amending the relevant enactments.”
The Bill moved by TN Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, also covers ‘games of mere skill’ if played in consideration of ‘wager, money or other stakes’.
If any company is found at fault, every person in charge and responsible for the conduct of the business at the time of the offence, as well as the firm, shall be deemed guilty of the offence.
The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have already banned online gambling and some of the card games that can be played online.
Madras HC issued notice to Kohli, Ganguly
Earlier last year, Indian cricket team’s captain Virat Kohli and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly were issued a notice by the Madurai bench of Madras High Court for their involvement in the promotion of online sports and fantasy league applications.
A bench consisting of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi issued the notices to even actors Prakash Raj, Tammanah Bhatia, Rana Dugubatti and Sudip Khan and other such online gaming companies.
As per reports, advocate Mohammed Rizvi filed the case after a youngster committed suicide in the state as he couldn’t pay back the money he took for online gambling.