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Sansad TV: Perspective- Regulating Online Gaming

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Introduction:

India is the world’s largest mobile gaming market in terms of app downloads. Revenue from online gaming grew 28% in 2021 to 1.2 Billion dollars and is expected to reach 1.9 Billion dollars by 2024. Need for virtual entertainment along with smartphone penetration and affordable internet is driving this surge in online gaming. India is home to over 275 gaming companies and more than 15,000 game developers. However serious concerns have been raised about the impact of online gaming on the society particularly the addictive nature of these games. Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw has recently said that Centre govt has started a consultation process with all stakeholders and would soon come up with a proper policy or a new law on online gaming. Over the past two to three years many states in India passed laws banning online games. Telangana was the first state to promulgate an official ban on online gambling and betting in 2017 followed by Andhra Pradesh in 2020. Tamil Nadu, Kerala ans Karnataka also came up with laws on this issue but the respective High Courts either struck down those laws or put a stay on them. Rajasthan Government has informed the High Court that it has drafted legislation to curb the menace of online gambling and betting.

Regulated online gambling:

  • Several countries in the world have already regulated online gambling, giving India the opportunity of picking the cherries from each regulatory market to create its own optimal framework.
  • No online gambling regulation is perfect.
  • Even experienced markets like Sweden and the UK struggle with finding a good regulatory balance that will benefit the country and its inhabitants equally.
  • At the same time, the gambling regulation in Sweden consists of sections that specify the obligations licensees have when it comes to responsible gambling, data protection, and marketing.

Gaming (Regulation) Bill of 2022 dropouts:

  • It’s important to understand that online gambling regulation is a better way to keep people’s gambling habits under control than a blanket ban. Regulation brings the funding necessary to tackle issues like organized crime.
  • The need to clean out irresponsible actors
  • In an unregulated, banned market, irresponsible actors and criminals are given better opportunities to take advantage of their victims.
  • Contrary to what conservative politicians might think, banning online gambling won’t eradicate online gambling. It will only move the activity out of sight.
  • While Indian players can play at foreign gambling sites and trust that they follow regulatory requirements, Indian players are simultaneously exposed to fraudulent websites.
  • An online gambling regulation will allow legitimate actors to take place on the market instead.
  • Authentic operators will only use secure payment methods and licensed game providers, and will follow stringent verification processes to eliminate fraudulent activity within the online gambling sector.

Difference Between Fantasy Sports & Other Online Games Or Sports Betting

    • Fantasy sports are entirely different from all forms of online games that are in the nature of e-sports, casual gaming etc. that do not need a real-life player to be actually playing a real sports match to decide the outcome for the participant.
    • Fantasy sports, unlike other online gaming, is dependent on actualities, seasonality and availability of real-time sports matches make it a non-addictive form of play which sets it distinctly apart from other forms of online game that are perceived to be in the nature of gambling and/or betting.

Gaming addiction impact on children

Implications of excessive gaming may result in harmful effects on children’s education and wellbeing.

  • Interference with studies: One of the signs of gaming addiction is the impact on other areas of life. If school work is suffering – including boredom in lessons, difficulty concentrating or low motivation to complete homework – then their gaming habits should be assessed.
  • Exposure to violent, graphic or sexualised content: Increasing numbers of parents are concerned about the content of games they play.  Fortnite, for example, is rated 12+ – yet many primary school-age children play. Games with violent, sexualised or highly realistic content (including augmented reality and virtual reality games) can also have an emotional impact on children, especially the younger kids.
    • It’s a controversial area with conflicting research but a study from Science Daily has linked violent video games to aggression in young people.
  • If gaming is at the expense of connection with friends in real life, then this withdrawal can affect relationship skills in everyday situations.
  • Repetitive strain injury (RSI): Children and young people who play games for extended periods can be affected by RSI. Stiffness, aches, pain and numbness are signs to watch out for.
    • For example, ‘nintendinitis’ refers to thumb, wrist and hand problems associated with playing on gaming consoles.
    • Eye strain is also common if you look at screens for long periods without taking breaks. Screen glare can also affect vision.
  • Poor nutrition or self-care: When gaming addiction takes over, children and young people may skip meals, rely on junk food, resist taking toilet breaks or have poor hygiene.
  • Poor quality sleep: Playing stimulating games for many hours at a time, particularly late at night, will make it harder to get to sleep.

Regulatory perks:

The list of perks that come with regulating gambling is long, but these are the most prominent areas that will benefit from an online gambling regulation:

Regulation is better:

  • Gambling regulation is a tool for governments to ensure that their people only have access to safe means of gambling.
  • And not only that, but regulation also makes sure that those offering the gambling products are being respectful of the market in which they act.
  • This is ensured by taxation and licensing fees, funds that go back into India’s economy instead of disappearing into the pockets of offshore foreign companies as they do today.