Time to pass progressive law, not ban online gambling: FICCI Gaming Committee

Mumbai: The FICCI Gaming Committee (FGC) has come out against statements by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu aimed at ending online gambling in the state. The FGC urged the state government to adopt an enabling gaming policy that protects players while ensuring a safe and responsible gaming environment.

“The FICCI Gaming Committee is committed to helping the government establish a safe gaming environment. However, we would like to reiterate that blanket bans do not ensure the protection of gamblers, but rather benefit unscrupulous operators and encourage illicit and underground gambling activities resulting in adverse effects on the very populations the government seeks to protect” , the industry body said in a statement.

The committee asserted that the need of the hour is a stable regulatory mechanism capturing clear requirements that protect consumers and the operations of legal operators. He suggested that the government consider regulating this new form of entertainment, thereby addressing several issues such as protecting players by giving them access to responsible entertainment choices.

In February 2021, the state government amended the Tamil Nadu Gambling Act 1930, banning online gambling, then the Madras High Court overturned the law in August 2021 based on several rulings by the Supreme Court taken in the past. Reiterating the constitutional protection given to games of skill.

“While we appreciate the government’s intention to protect users, a sweeping ban seems excessive and disproportionate to achieving its goals,” FICCI chief executive Arun Chawla said. “It will also have a severe impact on these new legitimate technology-focused businesses that generate much-needed jobs and revenue for the state.”

“About 420 million gamers across the country enjoy online gaming as a form of entertainment. To ensure the experiences of these gamers are safe, we are asking the government to consider regulating this industry, which would allow only legitimate operators and legal to operate while adhering to strict protocols,” said Sameer Barde, CEO of the E-Gaming Federation and Head of FGC. “At EGF, we have implemented a self-regulatory framework in the form of a code of conduct ensuring a safe, transparent and responsible environment for players by our certified members. We look forward to working with the government and offering our expertise to help the state establish a well-regulated and sustainable industry.

“The 27% growth in CAGR generated by the online skill games industry in 2020 has made it the fastest growing segment of India’s M&E sector,” said Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation and responsible for the FGC. “The Sunrise online skill game industry is responsible for facilitating more than 400 start-ups in this sector and attracting more than 400 million players – young Indians offering them viable alternative employment opportunities in the esports and other gaming businesses.”

“All AIGF stakeholders are governed by the Gaming Charter which ensures global best practices in responsible gaming and player protection. It is in the interest of all parties involved that the state government works with the games of skill industry to put in place a robust regulatory framework to ensure that all stakeholders in the ecosystem benefit economically. and socially, including gaming tax revenue and permission for Indian-registered gaming companies to operate in the state,” he added.

“India has become the largest fantasy sports market in the world with over 13 million Indian sports fans using fantasy sports,” said Anwar Shirpurwala, CEO of Fantasy Sports Federation of India and Head of Games Committee of FICCI. “Fantasy Sports contributes significantly to the growth of the sports ecosystem in India and also helps sports fans in Tamil Nadu to meaningfully engage in their favorite sports. Our government’s first think tank, NITI Aayog, recognized fantasy sports as a booming sector. Renowned academic institutions such as IIM Bangalore and MIT have applied scientific methodology and concluded that participating in fantasy sports requires significant skills, even beyond those required by a mutual fund manager. Furthermore, various legal commissions including the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission and the Law Commission of India have held that games of skill should be exempted from gambling laws. Various high courts including the High Court of Rajasthan have declared that fantasy sports are e-sports and are entitled to protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution. The view was further endorsed by the Honorable Supreme Court. In view of the above, the industry looks forward to working with the Government of Tamil Nadu to create a safe experience for sports fans and enable responsible industry growth through regulation.

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