Governments should regulate and not ban online gaming: industry body

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on June 05, 2021

Online gaming (file photo)   -  THE HINDU

`Online gaming is a sunrise sector; has potential to propel a second software revolution in India'

State governments should introduce exclusive policies to regulate online games instead of resorting to blanket ban as such prohibitions will only boost illegal gaming activities in the country, cautioned The Online Rummy Federation (TORF).

The gaming industry firmly believed that some controls were imperative, particularly in terms of identifying and weeding out illicit and unscrupulous players, it said.

``However, a total ban on gaming will only help bad operators who promote underground and illegal gaming activities,'' said Sameer Barde, CEO of TORF.

Despite the ban, Telangana reported a massive illegal online gambling racket, worth over ₹1,200 crore, run by a Chinese firm and similar incidents were possible anywhere, which further highlighting the need for proper regulatory frameworks, he added.

It may be recalled that, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala banned online rummy, although the game has already been identified as a ``game of skill'' (Chess, Rummy, Bridge, Carrom, Horse Racing, Pool and Billiards) and not a ``game of chance'' (teen patti flush (poker), roulette, slots or baccarat (casino games) and therefore declared legal by the Supreme Court.

“We, the industry, want to partner with the government to introduce the right mechanism, based on the tenets of responsible gaming. To start with, state governments should come out with an effective forward-looking online skill gaming policies,'' Barde insisted.

When asked if Karnataka, a progressive state that always supported sunrise industries, will introduce an exclusive policy framework for online gaming, Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan responded: ``We already have Karnataka Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (KAVGC) Policy. We are determined to support games and technologies that have legal sanctity.''

Business potential

According to technology lawyer, Jay Sayta, what is currently happening in the gaming space is typical of any early-stage industry, where the laws haven’t kept up with technological advancement. ``We have already seen this in e-commerce, urban mobility and food delivery. As an industry matures, there is creative destruction and consolidation, and what is required is regulation and not ban.''

Commenting on the business potential of the online gaming sector, Dinker Vashisht, Vice President, Games 24x7, said, “Online gaming is a sunrise sector. With the right support and regulatory clarity, the sector can propel a second software revolution in India, creating wealth and jobs for millions of people.''

India's online gaming industry, led by players like Dream 11, Games 24x7, MPL and PaytmOne, is expected to reach $3 billion by 2022. In the last five years, the sector attracted over $350 million in venture capital investments from Tiger Global, Sequoia, Raine, Tencent, Kalaari, Chryscapital, Matrix.

Published on June 05, 2021

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