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Will India Ever Regulate Online Gaming Activities?

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India has one of the fastest-growing online gaming sectors. Over the last few years, the country has welcomed numerous investments in the local iGaming industry. Aside from that, the country has also seen significant growth in online gaming activities, including real money games and sports betting. 

This is why many are wondering if the states will ever regulate these activities. That’s right. Online gambling is still not regulated in India and we’ll talk about this more and what the future looks like for the industry in this article.

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Current Regulations In Place Concerning iGaming

Gambling in India is regulated by the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Since this law was made in that year, it has no mention of gambling online, so this was a loophole that allowed Indians to place bets online on offshore-based casinos and bookies without getting in any trouble.

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Online gambling is in the grey area, but the local governments can decide on whether this activity should be regulated or not, even offline gambling. Currently, there are three states with legal gambling activities which are Goa, Sikkim, and Daman.  

More and more game lovers are visiting sites like https://www.bettingsites24.in/ to see where they can place their bets online. While this may have been something good for the industry, local state governments are somewhat alarmed by the rise of online gamblers in their territories.

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What this means for the locals is that they have to go to these states if they want to gamble locally. Of course, this isn’t ideal for everybody, so they go online instead. 

Now, what that means for India is the loss of potential revenues since offshore casinos and where they are based are the ones gaining revenues. 

While India can just turn to regulate online gambling activities, it seems like not everyone is all for it. There are states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which placed a blanket ban on iGaming activities last year due to the rising numbers of online gamblers within their territories.

Sushil Kumar Modi, a member of the parliament and a senior BJP leader spoke about how the government should do something about online gambling. In a previous statement, he said, “Online gaming is becoming a big addiction. I would like to highlight that this sector, like the crypto industry, certainly has regulatory lacunae.

“So, I would urge the government to bring a uniform tax on online gaming. I urge the government to make a comprehensive framework of regulation for online gaming. Crores and crores of youngsters have become [addicted] to online gaming. As it is online, it is very difficult to prevent kids from getting addicted.”

However, even with this call, the high court struck down the law amendments that Tamil Nadu and Karnataka passed to ban online gaming activities. According to the Madras High Court, the amendments in place were unconstitutional.

Based on the ruling, they found that these states failed to meet the least intrusive measurement test which made their amendments foul under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India. This section of the Constitution states that anyone has the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

While these laws were struck down, the High Court still said that the states can still come up with laws that could help fix local problematic gambling issues. That said, likely, regulations will still be in place soon. What’s unlikely is that the activities will be banned instead.

What the Future Looks Like

Earlier this year, a member of the Lok Sabha from the Indian National Congress proposed the Online Gaming Bill of 2022. This bill suggests the establishment of a national governing body of online gambling, the Online Gaming Commission.

This commission will have the power to issue, suspend, and cancel the gambling licenses of websites and servers. This is very much similar to what the UK has in place for online gambling. Many experts in the industry are enthusiastic about this.

One of India’s largest casino platforms, Seven Jackpots, shared a few thoughts about the latest bill. The casino’s chief editor, Felicia Wijkander, said, “This is vastly different from blanket bans, as, let’s face it, with today’s possibilities of using VPNs and cryptocurrencies to avoid online detection, players will play no matter if there’s a ban or not.

“The option for players in a “blanket ban market” is foreign casinos, which means that money will seep out from India into the pockets of offshore gaming companies.

“Unlike the current Public Gambling Act, 1867, The Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022, includes all types of real money games. Not just casino games and sports betting, but other games with real money functionalities such as Fortnite, PUBG, Candy Crush, etc.,” Wijkander added.

However, the bill still lacks solidity, especially when it comes to customer protection. Whether a new version of the bill will come out is still unknown. It may be likely, but we can only really wait for now.

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