The case for clarity over India’s policy on online betting

News: Karnataka had imposed a blanket prohibition on all online games. The order was stayed by the Madras High Court judgment. Similarly, some states have imposed a complete ban while others have made restrictive amendments to existing laws governing online gambling.

Read here: Gaming and banning: On ban on online games

What is the present legal framework with respect to online gaming in India?

It falls under the List II of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution. Online gaming policies fall under the legislative jurisdiction of the state. Several states like UP, MP and Delhi have adopted the colonial era Public Gambling Act 1867. While others enacted legislation to regulate gaming and gambling activities within their territories under the gaming law.

Read here: Online gaming and its regulations in India – Explained, pointwise
What are the court judgments on online batting?

Public Prosecutor vs Vraj Lal Sheth: Madras High Court ruled that whereas gaming involves skills, betting involve losing or winning solely depending on the occurrence of an uncertain event.

Shri Varun Gamber Vs Union Territory of Chandigarh: Court ruled that playing significant games like Dream 11 required a significant degree of skill and so not constitute gambling.

Junglee games vs State of Tamil Nadu: High Court ruled that games of skills can be played online for skates and cannot be categorized as betting or gambling.

Read here: Why are High Courts striking down the ban on Online Gaming?
What are the problems associated with online gaming?

World Health Organization, in its International Classification of diseases 2019 data, expressed that online games are behaviorally addictive. Habitual gamers may suffer from various issues like blurred vision, stereotypical mindset, lack of physical exercise, etc. It may also expose them to sexual stereotypes and inappropriate conditioning of males.

Read here: What are the issues associated with online gaming?
What should be the way forward?

India is lacking in the laws governing online games. There is need to adopt appropriate regulatory norms that involve age verification mechanisms, parental control and risk flagging system.

As the world is getting digitized, Law Commission of India advised government to adopt a comprehensive legislative framework which can satisfy the present demands of the society.

Read here: Watch for secretive behaviour, tendency to switch screens: govt advisory on online gaming among children

Source: This post is based on the article “The case for clarity over India’s policy on online betting” published in the Livemint on 18th February 2022.

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