Online skill gaming industry expresses concerns over the Karnataka government’s bill to ban online gaming

Updated on Sep 24, 2021 01:32 AM IST  |  56.6K
   
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Online skill gaming industry expresses concerns over the Karnataka government’s bill to ban online gaming
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Karnataka Assembly has passed an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, which seeks to ban online gaming and curtail online gambling. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the proposal is not valid for online games that strictly comply with "game of skills". The online Skill Gaming industry expresses concerns over the Karnataka government’s bill to ban online gaming. Here are the exclusive reactions from the online gaming industry.

Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation states, “India is the fifth largest online gaming market globally and skill-based gaming, a sunrise sector, is giving birth to an increasing number of unicorns within the country, especially Karnataka. The sector has been a strong financial contributor to the Indian economy even during an unprecedented period of slowdown and is further expected to generate revenues in excess of $ 3 billion by 2025. The move by the Karnataka government is a setback to the state’s reputation of being a tech-hub and start-up capital.”

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“The ban in Karnataka is disconcerting for this sunrise sector in India, particularly at a time when the higher judiciary has reiterated the difference between games of skill and games of chance. That Karnataka, which is a tech and start-up capital of India, should take such a step is all the more distressing because a lot of other states realize gaming’s potential and working on policies to attract investment from gaming companies- in view of sector’s immense multiplier benefits”, says, Dinker Vashisht, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Games24x7.

Skill-based gaming cannot be compared with gambling, and banning is not a solution. Elaborating this further Justice Vikramajit Sen, a former Judge of the Supreme Court and former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, added, “The Indian regulatory framework has clearly differentiated between games of skill and games of chance in India. Just because games of skills may involve an entry fee they cannot be considered gambling. Games of chance are considered gambling as it involves luck rather than skill and thus it is expressly prohibited by the law, wherein games of skill are considered legal across most states including digital & online. The sector needs the support of state governments to promote initiatives towards responsible gaming and recognition of the AIGF ‘Self-regulation Framework’. AIGF and its advisory members look forward to an opportunity to engage stakeholders within the state government to make an industry representation on the matter.”

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With serious concerns looming from the Karnataka Government's move to ban online gaming, PK Misra, President Players' Association - AIGF and former senior IAS said, “The move will affect the online skill-based gaming sector, putting an end to player’s right to earn their livelihood. There is no clarity on the scope of this law. Around 10-12% of India’s gaming community is based in Karnataka, and many of these players who compete at the international level are afraid for not only their livelihoods, but also their ability to pursue their dreams of becoming professional players on international platforms. I certainly hope the state government draws a clear distinction between gambling and games of skill. Since 1957, the Supreme court has reiterated games of skill as a legitimate business protected under article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution, also supported by the Karnataka High Court in multiple judgments.”

As an industry we need to make sure that they are nurtured while ensuring that players have an enriching and unique experience. Expressing her views, Muskan Sethi, Responsible Gaming Ambassador of All India Gaming Federation said, “Every professional gamer devotes his or her time and effort in improving their skills and gameplay to perform better at any domestic or international gaming tournaments, and now as the decision to ban the online skill gaming across the state of Karnataka may affect the livelihoods and income of the these gamers living in that state, instead of banning such games from the market, as a player I would suggest the government should seek to devise a regulatory framework in consultation with the industry stakeholders so that it encourages professional gameplay and control the rise of grey market of gambling.”

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