comscore India needs an effective regulatory framework over online gaming, AIGF CEO points out

India needs an effective regulatory framework over online gaming, AIGF CEO points out

India should make use of the global best practices in gaming regulation to develop and adopt 'a proper policy structure, legal framework, and data privacy procedures'

  • Updated: August 16, 2022 6:32 PM IST
Online Gaming

The Country’s Online Gaming Industry Displays Massive Growth

A recently published opinion article authored by Roland Landers, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), highlights that the country’s online gaming segment succeeded in registering a massive growth of 28 percent during 2021 reaching a market value of ₹10,100 crore. This achievement happened despite the existing regulatory uncertainty related to gaming in the country and regardless of people returning to work with the easing of Covid-19 induced restrictions.

Landers further quotes figures from a report by global financial advisory KPMG projecting India’s gaming industry to attain a value of over ₹29,000 crore by 2025 with its user base growing to more than 65 crores of people. At the same time, the sector is expected to offer high-level jobs to more than 70,000 technologists in addition to generating numerous indirect job opportunities in related industries.

AIGF CEO also points to a number of court decisions, including rulings by the High Courts of Punjab and Haryana, Rajasthan and Mumbai, which have acknowledged the skill-based nature of online fantasy sports. Thus, these games enjoy protection by Article 19(1)(g) of the Union Constitution as legitimate business activities.

Other judgments by the High Courts of Kerala, Madras and Karnataka have struck down the blanket bans on all online gaming varieties involving betting and wagering, ranging from blackjack online to Ludo and even chess, that had been enacted by the governments of the respective states.

The Problems for Society and the Industry Remain Unsolved

Regardless of the numerous court judgments on gaming-related subject matters, the problems faced by Indian society and the country’s online gaming industry remain unsolved, as Roland Landers highlights.

On the one hand, there are all the issues which were the reasons articulated by state governments for enacting the prohibitions on gaming, including addictions, problem gambling and other mental health risks, large financial losses and sinking in debt, and even suicides caused by such misfortunes.

Blanket gaming bans have proved ineffective in solving any of these problems, and not only because of their unconstitutionality and subsequent failure to pass court scrutiny. In the age of information, a mere ban cannot stop a person who wishes to play an online roulette game, for example, from finding a way to do so. The effect of a ban is that such a person might end up gaming on a shady or outrightly fraudulent website due to the lack of safe and regulated options on the market.

And on the other hand, the continuous legal uncertainty and ambiguity regarding online gaming in India hurts the country’s industry and makes it impossible to realize its full potential for achieving growth, contributing tax revenues to the government and society, generating jobs, and attracting investments.

India Does Not Need to Invent Hot Water

The problems and risks arising from online gaming, gambling and betting are not something unique for India, and a number of countries around the world have developed solutions around implementing regulations and licensing regimes over the sector in order to address the issues and rake in the economic benefits.

“Globally, online gaming is a fairly well-regulated space. Many countries including the UK and the US, and the EU have regulations in place to ensure that users can enjoy this form of entertainment responsibly. Similarly, in India too, there’s a need for constant collaboration and creative problem solving from all stakeholders,” Roland Landers argues in his article.

Sweden, for example, established the Swedish Gaming Authority and adopted a licensing regime in 2019, moved by the influx of offshore gambling operators targeting the Scandinavian country’s online space and citizens. Doing this, Sweden gained control over the sector, allowing access to its market to operators in exchange for them paying taxes and observing strict rules.

Like the majority of gambling regulations around the world, Swedish legislation has a focus on gamer protection, including a national self-exclusion system, a requirement for all gaming pages to contain responsible gaming buttons, prohibitions on gaming on credit, fast play on slots, VIP and loyalty programs and other such measures.

India should make use of the global best practices in gaming regulation to develop and adopt “a proper policy structure, legal framework, and data privacy procedures” in order to protect its citizens from related risks and enable the industry to achieve its growth projections and support the Digital India initiatives by the central government.

“Given the complexity of this industry, I believe there’s an urgent need to address the perception and uncertainty surrounding it to avoid extreme reactions,” Roland Landers points out.

“A well-regulated online gaming industry will present compelling advantages and economic benefits too. Regulations would enable the government-mandated operations to ensure player safety whilst increasing the revenue and employment in the sector culminating in healthy growth of the eco-system,” AIGF CEO concludes.

Above mentioned article is a Consumer connect initiative, This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of IDPL, and IDPL claims no responsibility whatsoever.

  • Published Date: August 16, 2022 5:52 PM IST
  • Updated Date: August 16, 2022 6:32 PM IST
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