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Industry considers options as Tamil Nadu ordinance bans online gaming

Sector takes hope from High Courts previously overturning such prohibitions by state governments

Tamil Nadu | mk stalin | online gaming

Shine Jacob  |  Chennai 

Online gaming ready to hit the big league

Online gaming is not gambling but entertainment, said the $2 billion Indian industry on Tuesday after the cabinet approved an ordinance banning the practice.

According to a report by Koan Advisory, some 500 million people play in India. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have bans on online gaming, prompting the industry to fight legal battles. The has said that the ordinance will be promulgated after getting clearance from governor R N Ravi.

“We will be able to come up with our views only after knowing what is being written in the ordinance. In terms of revenue to the industry, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Delhi NCR are the major contributors,” said Sameer Barde, chief executive of the E- Federation.

“This cannot be regulated under gambling, it should be regulated under entertainment. At present, a ban is applicable in only three states and in states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the respective High Courts had turned down the bans,” Barde said. The global online, or fantasy, industry is expected to be worth $38.6 billion by 2025. According to experts, the Indian industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 35 per cent.

The Indian industry is looking for central regulation, rather than guidelines coming from each state. In May this year, the central set up a committee to regulate . The committee includes the chief executive officer of NITI Aayog and secretaries of the ministries of home, sports and youth affairs, information and broadcasting, and electronics and information technology.

Separately, a committee headed by former judge K Chandru gave a report recommending that the ban that involved stakes. It also suggested banning advertisements that encourage people to play such games. It is not clear whether the Tamil Nadu ordinance includes the advertisement aspects as well. The report had highlighted that in the last three years at least 17 people lost their lives in the state due to with stakes.

Tamil Nadu’s previous government introduced legislation in February 2021 to ban online games, but it was struck down by the in August 2021. The government then approached the Supreme Court in November.

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First Published: Tue, September 27 2022. 16:01 IST