The center’s planned regulation of online gambling will apply to all real-money gambling after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) scrapped a proposal to regulate only games of skill and omit gambling, citing a government document and three sources, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.
According to research firm Redseeer, the long-awaited regulations will shape the future of India’s $7 billion gambling sector by 2026, which will be dominated by real-money games. Recently, Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital backed Indian startups Dream11 and Mobile Premier League, known for fantasy cricket.
A government committee tasked with drafting the regulation in August proposed a new body to decide whether a game involves skill or chance and then have skill games governed by proposed federal rules that include registration requirements, know-your-customer -Norms and a grievance mechanism.
Gambling, which is seen as similar to gambling, which is largely banned across India, should fall under the purview of individual state governments, which would be free to regulate, Reuters previously reported. However, at a meeting on Oct. 26, an official at the PMO disagreed with such a distinction and called for expanded oversight of all types of games, according to the meeting’s confidential minutes verified by Reuters.
Distinguishing games as skill or chance has not been easy due to a lack of legal clarity and conflicting court decisions, the record quoted the official as saying, adding that “online gaming can be considered as an activity/service without distinction”.
The definition of games has been controversial in India. The Supreme Court says that the card game rummy and certain fantasy games, for example, are skill-based and legal, while different state courts have held different views on games like poker.
The PMO and the IT ministry, which drafts the rules, did not respond to a request for comment. Three people directly involved in the rulemaking process, including two government officials, told Reuters that the federal administration’s rules will give broader oversight over all types of gaming, while state governments retain the power to outright ban gambling or gambling.
The drafting of the new rules comes amid growing concerns that the proliferation of such games, particularly among young people, has led to addiction and financial loss, with some reported cases of suicide.
One of the sources said Modi’s government remains concerned about a possible addiction to such platforms.
The government panel’s August report had recommended that new rules should include so-called “addiction measures” such as regular warnings and advice and setting deposit and withdrawal limits.