EGF CEO: Gov’t should Regulate Gaming Instead of Doing Damage with Blanket Bans

Blanket Bans on Online Gaming Boost Illegal Activity and are Hurtful to the Very Gamers They are Supposed to Protect

Speaking at a media briefing in Chennai on April 8, the CEO of Indian non-profit organization E-Gaming Federation (EGF) Sameer Barde urged the Tamil Nadu government to regulate online gaming and not to rely on a blanket ban, as this radical policy only serves to fuel illegal gaming activities and in practice has a harmful effect on the public which the government aims to protect.

“Tamil Nadu needs a strong regulatory mechanism that protects the players by promoting responsible gaming and helps the legitimate operators grow, while weeding out the ones who break the law,” Barde said.

According to EGF CEO, the TN government should create a joint committee tasked to examine the positive and negative sides of online gaming and research the possibilities of adopting a licensing regime over the industry.

Barde highlighted that gaming has already been regulated in many countries around the world such as the UK and the US. He also pointed out Rajasthan’s freshly announced decision to implement regulations on online gaming, “Recently, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot said his government is looking to regulate the online gaming sector.”

Negative public perceptions are among the main factors that hold the growth of the Indian gaming industry down, according to Barde. “Watching a movie is no hassle but if I’m going to say that I’m going to play online games, I’m not going to be liked,” he backed up his point.

These negative connotations associated with online gaming linking it to a frivolous lifestyle and addictions impede the genre’s wider acceptance as a novel form of entertainment. Yet, it is the lack of a sensible regulatory framework that makes it not possible for the gaming industry to realize its potential, Sameer Barde said.

Regulations and Licensing Regimes have been Shown to be Beneficial both for the State and the Users

Research and global practice has shown that, if India, centrally or at state level, adopts sensible regulations and a licensing regime over gaming, this will be highly beneficial both for the country in the face of the exchequer and the gaming industry, and for the gamers themselves. Such a regime implementation can start with online skill gaming, and move on to encompass games of chance, casino gaming sites and online betting platforms.

An overview of the trends and practices in gaming regulation and licensing around the world, recently published by Esse N Videri (ENV Media), a real money gaming market expertise and consultancy company, shows a growing focus on active customer protection.

India can make use of global examples and implement legislation requiring skill gaming operators, online casinos, IPL betting and general sportsbook platforms to integrate responsible gaming mechanisms on their sites to effectively shield desi users from the risks associated with gaming and gambling.

These should include limits on weekly deposited amounts and betting on credit, AI-based monitoring of risky behavior, restrictions on fast play, loyalty offers and advertising, quick access buttons to customer support and mental health professional help, among others. A national-level self-exclusion program allowing gamblers to exclude themselves from all gambling and betting platforms at the press of a button is another of the widely used measures around the world that India can implement.

Such a regulatory framework would also promote India’s homegrown gaming industry by rooting out unfair foreign competition and enhancing its integrity, raising revenues and job creation. The policy will also channel substantial financial flows away from the black market and into legitimate and licensed operators who will pay taxes and license fees to state or national exchequers. Thus, instead of having to spend large funds on law enforcement, India will gain a new source of income that can be used on welfare schemes and socially significant projects.

As Sameer Barde highlighted, the country’s online gaming market is expected to reach $7 billion in value by 2026, marking a substantial growth from its current size of $2.2 billion. “There are so many investors who are pumping money into this industry and we already have three gaming unicorns among the 400-plus gaming companies in India. And this year, you will see three more unicorns,” he pointed out.

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