CHENNAI: The State government may not go for a total ban on online gaming but it may be one of the few to come up with regulations to regulate the industry. Reliable sources revealed that there were different types of online games and some need to be banned, while others regulated. It is learnt that the recommendations of the committee headed by retired High Court judge K Chandru will soon be translated into a legislation.
While the Centre is holding talks with the online gaming industry on coming out with its own model regulations, the committee, which looked into the adverse effects of online gaming with stakes, has submitted its report examining issues related to online gaming.
When TNIE contacted Justice Chandru, he said the report had been submitted to the State government and refused to divulge anything. This comes after the Madras High Court struck down Part II of the Tamil Nadu Gaming & Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, which amended the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930, to ban playing of games such as rummy and poker on cyberspace with stakes, by declaring it as unconstitutional.
The HC bench, however, granted liberty to the State to pass another legislation, without any lacunae. It added that nothing in this judgment would prevent the State government from introducing an appropriate legislation conforming to the Constitutional principles of propriety.
The move to ban online games came up after 17 suicides were reported across Tamil Nadu in the past three years due to online gaming with stakes. The online gaming industry in India is worth $2.2bn and is expected to reach $7bn by 2026. The number of gamers in India is close to 400 million and is expected to reach 700 million by 2025.
Meanwhile, the online gaming industry claimed that states have failed to consider the real menace of offshore gambling and betting platforms that continue to operate in the country with no legal oversight and, therefore, no consumer protection or safeguards.
For many years now, these offshore platforms have proliferated in the country and edged their way into the mainstream. Operating a gambling or betting business from within the country is illegal according to Indian laws. Despite this, companies operate, advertise and engage with users in India, industry sources said.
“These companies are registered in tax havens such as Cyprus, Malta and Curacao. But any visitor to these websites will not know this until they dig deeper and read the fine print. Some apps even offer content in regional languages to make it more appealing to users,” an industry source, on the condition of anonymity, stated.
Even in states where online gaming for stakes is not permitted, such platforms continue to operate with impunity. We saw this last year when Karnataka notified an amendment to its Karnataka Police Act, banning all forms of online gaming with a monetary component. While legitimate skill gaming apps suspended operations and blocked anyone from within the state from accessing the games, these offshore gambling sites continued to function unabated. Banning legitimate business activity will only boost the illicit and black market of gambling and betting, industry sources added.
No legal oversight on real menace
Online gaming industry say states have failed to consider the real menace of offshore gambling and betting platforms that continue to operate in the country with no legal oversight and, therefore, no consumer protection
Operating with impunity
Even in states where online gaming for stakes is not permitted, such platforms (offshore platforms) continue to operate with impunity