BJP MP Urges Gov’t To Fight Gambling Addiction In Youngsters Through Regulation Over The Sector

SevenJackpots Casino
SevenJackpots Casino

State Attempts at Blanket Bans have Proven Unsuccessful

BJP member of the Rajya Sabha Sushil Kumar Modi used the house’s Zero Hour on December 3 to raise the issue of the spreading online gambling addiction among young people in India and the need of national regulation on the matter. He noted the number of states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala that had placed blanket bans on online gaming which had been later struck down by the respective high courts as unconstitutional.

Sushil Modi’s submission struck home and caused the RS Chairman Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu not only to allow it voiced during the Zero Hour, but also to react and address the Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw urging him to take the issue into consideration. “Consult the Law Ministry and do the needful. It’s a big menace,” Chairman Naidu said.

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Gaming Addictions are a Cause of Concern

During the parliament’s session, Sushil Modi pointed to statistics revealing that the average weekly gaming time had grown to four hours after the pandemic, while it had used to be 2.5 hours before the Covid-induced lockdowns. The BJP MP also stressed that thousands of young Indians “have become addicted to online gaming” which is difficult to be kept under check among underaged citizens exactly because of it being online.

“Online gaming is becoming a big addiction,” MP Modi said. “And now this online gaming has been converted into gambling or betting,” he continued and directed the house’s attention to the growing controversy over what separates skill-based and chance-based games.

The size and growth of the Indian online gaming market were also commented on during the session, noting that annual revenues had been expected to grow from the current $1.8 billion to $3.8 billion by 2025, and that the number of gamers had been projected to increase from 43 crore now to 65.7 crore by the same year.

MP Sushil Modi Sees Comprehensive Regulation as the Solution

“I would like to highlight that this sector, like the crypto industry, certainly has regulatory lacunae,” MP Sushil Modi pointed out during his speech. “I would urge the government to bring a uniform tax on online gaming and I urge the government to make a comprehensive framework of regulation for online gaming,” he said.

The Indian legislation relating to gambling and betting, for the most part, comes from before this century and is concerned mostly with physical presence in real-world gaming premises and the exchange of physical money. Besides the struck down blanket bans of several states, regulation on online gaming is rare in India and it is left to exist unchecked in a regulatory gray space.

Mature Markets Around the World Have Found the Solution in Regulation

Taking a look at the contemporary global trends in gaming and betting regulation we see a general move of developed or mature economies towards the adoption of national licensing regimes combined with a shift of focus from data protection to consumer protection and addressing of addictions and other problem gambling issues.

A common practice is to have separate licensing procedures for sites offering casino and slot games, betting on sport events, and sale of lottery tickets online. National governments, usually through specially appointed gaming authorities, issue licenses to platforms to operate on the local market in exchange for adherence to strict rules.

Responsible gaming mechanisms are in the centre of regulatory requirements, starting from operator participation in national-level self-exclusion programs and blacklists, and going through mandatory responsible gaming buttons and links to organizations providing professional help to problem gamblers on every page of the site. Various rules concerning interface and marketing are also applied, including speed-of-play limits, bans on reverse withdrawals, restrictions on time of play or weekly deposit amounts, as well as on advertising and VIP programs.

Fairplay is guaranteed through rigorous checks on the integrity of the RNG (random number generator) and RTP (return to player) mechanism of all software slots, roulette, blackjack online, and other games to be offered by the casino operator.

Taxation and license fee collection, together with sound AML (anti-money laundering) procedures are also among the benefits to society that come from reasonable and comprehensive regulation on online gaming.

The Unique Indian ‘Zero Hour’ Tradition

The ‘Zero Hour’ is an unique Indian parliamentary tradition which has been around since the time of the first Vice President of the nation and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. There is no written rule defining the Zero Hour, for it has been accepted as convention for being the time when MPs can raise urgent issues of great public importance without the 15-day minimum prior notice needed for the Question Hour. According to the Handbook for Members of Rajya Sabha, since May 1999, permissions by the RS Chairman for Zero Hour submissions have been very rare due to the lack of a mechanism to guarantee a response by the Union Government to this informal practice. Thus, “It is now only under very exceptional circumstances or extreme urgency that  the Chairman grants permission for raising a matter of urgent public importance by way of Zero Hour Submission.