The central government will have oversight of all types of online games, Reuters reported on Sunday, 4 December, citing sources.
Two birds, one stone? This could mean that the Centre's online gaming regulations could deal with both, games of skill and games of chance.
Yes, but: State governments will still retain the right to ban games of chance, the Reuters report added.
What are games of chance? Any game where the outcome solely depends on chance or luck and there's no element of skill required. This would include casino apps, online lotteries, and sports betting platforms, among others. Rummy and the likes of Dream11 have been classified as games of skill by various courts.
First, a confidential report by a government-appointed committee had proposed that the regulations should only apply to games of skill and not games of chance.
The committee suggested setting up a separate body to decide which game falls under each category.
Skill-based gaming companies would have to follow registration requirements, know-your-customer norms, and enable grievance redressal.
They would also have to undertake "de-addiction measures" such as issuing periodic warnings and advisories as well as imposing deposit and withdrawal limits.
Straight from the top: The committee's recommendation that only games of skill be covered by the regulations was reportedly a no-go for PM Modi's office.
The industry's case: The All India Gaming Federation (AGIF) is all for the Centre taking the reins when it comes to online gaming regulations.
In a statement to The Quint, AIGF said, "In recent times, the industry has been faced with a situation where state governments have conflated skill-based gaming with the gambling industry, and have sought to prohibit it, causing fragmentation in the sector."
“It is important that we acknowledge the explicit distinction between games of skill and games of chance, which is needed for the governments to bring a structured growth to the entire ecosystem,” said Ankur Singh, the CEO of real-money gaming company Witzeal Technologies.
"We are hopeful that centralized regulation will solve this issue of state fragmentation and unconstitutional state bans. Such clarity will improve investor confidence and further allow the industry to grow at an even faster pace."Roland Landers, CEO of AGIF
Turf war incoming? A lot is up in the air when it comes to India's online gaming regulations, for instance:
As per Entries 34 and 62 of List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, betting and gambling falls under the jurisdiction of state governments. Hence, games of chance would technically be a state subject, right?
But now, the central government is reportedly keen on regulatory powers that encompass all online games.
In that case, it would likely have to amend the Constitution.
It would also have to amend or entirely replace the Public Gambling Act, 1857.
Meanwhile, the regulatory greyness is coming at a sad cost. Indians, particularly young people, are dying by suicide as a result of financial losses brought on by gambling addiction.
(If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs.)