A lawyer duo analyses the current legal situation relating to gambling and online gaming in India and comes to the conclusion that a central regulation framework and a national gaming authority are the “need of the hour” to protect industry and consumers. Industry experts provide an insight into how a typical gambling product consumer who would benefit from this protection looks like.
The Existing Patchwork of Archaic Laws is Not Fit for the Digital Era
A recent analysis article published by the India Business Law Journal calls for a progressive regulation on online gaming in India and the creation of a game certification authority which is to verify which games are skill based and which are dependent on chance. According to the authors K Premchandar, partner, and Shrivatsav N, associate, at Anand and Anand, a full-service intellectual property law firm, this will work for the benefit of the customers and the industry alike.
Currently, gaming and gambling are regulated by a “patchwork” of statutes created in the previous century when the internet did not exist and the legislator was unable to foresee the extent of present-day online development and even the mere existence of online casino real money games. Attempts at fixing temporary solutions by way of amendments only increase the complexity and vagueness of the legal framework rather than properly addressing modern issues.
Online Space is “Borderless”, so Should Regulation on Online Gaming Be
The legal system itself where states are delegated the power to legislate their own stance on gambling and betting is seen unfit for the digital era by the authors, because cyberspace is global by nature and law enforcement over state borders is difficult.
"The whole objective of the online gaming industry is to connect people who will otherwise be restricted physically by territory, and enable them to play with/against each other,” write K Premchandar and Shrivatsav N. The whole diversity of individual state legislation on the matter, ranging from various permission and regulation regimes to full bans, obstructs trade and impedes the online gaming industry from developing its full potential.
For this reason, the “need of the hour” is a progressive and well judged regulation on gaming to be adopted on the national level that takes into full account the global nature of the online realm.
Regulatory Body Needed to Properly Distinguish Games of Skill and Chance
The authors call for the establishment of a regulatory body with powers to determine and certify which games are predominantly games of skill and the outcomes of which games depend mostly on chance. This will not only bring clarity, transparency and foreseeability on the matter, but will also enable the easier imposing of proper regulations including on roulette online and other games of chance to protect the customers and the industry.
K Premchandar and Shrivatsav N point out to the years of consistent practice by the Supreme court and various high courts since 1957 which states that games of skill do not constitute gambling, Yet, despite the numerous court rulings, still no universal and standardized test has been devised so far to determine the ratios of skill and chance involved in a game, neither by the judicial system, nor by the legislature.
What is the Target Audience to Benefit from this Regulatory Body Protection?
An insight into who are the typical consumers that will benefit from the protection by this game certification authority is provided by a research paper titled “Target Audience: India” by industry experts and analysts Esse N Videri Media (ENV Media).
The typical desi consumer of online gambling products is a well-educated university graduate just under 30 years of age. He was born in a small town in the South Indian states, but now lives in Delhi with his new family of two and works as a IT engineering subcontractor.
He has been brought to gambling at an early age by his family who showed him Teen Patti and Andar Bahar, and a bit later by his friends with whom he played Poker and Rummy. Now, he loves playing online, but he wouldn’t say no to the good old classic taash party at a friend’s place.
He plays for the entertainment and to relieve stress, not for the money, and he uses gaming to fill his free time while keeping in touch with friends or family. This is why he prefers to play on apps with their integrated chat and video functions.