What’s Next for the iGaming Industry in Tamil Nadu?
Updated on: Aug 30, 2022 1:47 pm IST
India is set to have one of the biggest iGaming industries worldwide. All types of online gaming including gambling like playing real money casino games and betting on sports have gained popularity in the last few years and so much is also happening in the industry.
Indian states have also taken notice of how the iGaming sector has been growing, and some of them have been cautious about the risks involved in this activity, especially when it comes to online gambling activities.
In 2020, Tamil Nadu came up with the 2021 Amendment Act which prohibited gambling activities online. However, this didn’t last long because the Madras High Court struck this amendment down last year. And so, until today, the locals can still gamble on sites listed on bettingsites24.in.
Tamil Nadu’s Current Plans for iGaming
The reason why Tamil Nadu banned online gaming is because of the rising problems that come with the activity. According to the state, because of online gambling, innocent people, especially the young ones, have been cheated on and this affected their lives so much that some even committed suicide.
And so, the state thought that banning online games would protect consumers from such harm. And so, even after the decision of the high court, Tamil Nadu still wants to find a way to combat online gaming risks. Since the HC said that the state is still free to enact a new constitutional law, it is still seeking to restore the ban.
“The HC lost sight of the fact that the impugned amendment Act, in pith and substance, qualifies as a legislation on the subject of ‘betting’, which is a distinct area open for State legislation under the Constitution,” according to the state’s appeal.
There have been mixed reactions to the state’s initial act on this activity. Some think it was just right, some don’t agree with it, and some see it as pointless because even when the ban was in place, the locals still found ways to play games online.
This is most likely why the state is now moving towards regulating online gaming instead. However, since the scope of iGaming is quite wide, more clarification is needed when it comes to the classification of online games.
Some groups want the state to be clearer about which games are recognized as games of skills or chance. This includes the Esports Players Welfare Association (EPWA).
The director of EPWA, ShivaniJha, recently spoke to PTI about what their hopes are on what the government will do next about the industry. Jha said, “We have sent representation to the state government on August 13.
“We have requested the Tamil Nadu government to recognize skill games as a distinct sport and not club it along with gambling and provide safe harbor for professional players.”
Jha explained that putting skill-based games in the same bucket as gambling is criminalizing skill-based players. He said, “While India is participating in international tournaments and developers are making new games, the state must regulate online skill-based gaming.
“Moreover, courts have repeatedly pronounced judgments stating the state government can only make laws on online gambling and not gaming, this ends up putting players at risk and equating them with gamblers and criminals.”
This is mainly the reason why the HC saw the amendment as unconstitutional.
Tamil Nadu Sets up a Panel to Regulate iGaming
Recently, the state set up a four-member panel that’s headed by the retired HC judge, Justice K. Chandru. This is to help the panel examine the issues related to online gaming and they should be able to submit a report at least two weeks from now.
This committee will also be looking at which games are possibly addictive and can lead to financial loss and other problematic consequences.
Aside from the retired Madras HC judge, the Institute of Technology (IIT) expert Sankararaman Lakshmi Vijayakumar who’s also a psychiatrist and founder of an NGO for suicide prevention (SNEHA) will be involved in the process, as well as Vinit Dev Wankhede who’s the director-general of police.
So, we’ll have to wait and see what the state will reveal in two weeks and if they considered what groups like EPWA have been telling them. If Tamil Nadu does come up with legislation that would regulate gambling activities, then they might very well have the model that other states like Karanataka might follow.
Karnataka, like Tamil Nadu, also placed a blanket ban on online gaming but eventually had to lift it because the amendment they had in place was also struck down by the HC.