Banning Online Games – UPSC GS3

Context: Tamil Nadu government, driven by the desire to control the menace of online gambling, has moved legislation to ban online games like rummy and poker.
  • The Tamil Nadu government has amended the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act 1930 and banned online games like rummy, poker etc.
  • But the Madras High Court has struck down the amendment.
The justifications cited by the Government
  • These games can be addictive.
  • They can have an economically destabilizing impact on small households.
Madras High Court’s observation
  • The amendment failed to make a distinction between games of skill and games of chance.
  • The amendment added clauses that would apply to games of skill if played for a wager, bet etc. This is contrary to the previous judicial pronouncements.
  • The amendment would render even offline games illegal which are played for prize money.
Issues with the legislation
  • Populism has made the state paternalistic, assuming that society needs its guidance. This compromises individual freedom and choice.
  • Legislation is guided more by moralism or notions of sin rather than reason.
  • Excessive paternalism can easily turn into authoritarianism.
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