Even though the matter falls under the purview of the states and many of them have taken action to deal with it, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw underlined the need for a federal law on Wednesday to tightly regulate online gaming and gambling in the nation.
In response to queries in the Lok Sabha on the subject, the Union Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology stated that states must come to an agreement on the matter and that a national law must be passed to control online gaming and gambling in the nation because state lines have no meaning in the digital world.
Additionally, he insisted that an agreement be reached on the issue by all political parties.
“Online gambling and illegal betting is a very important subject. As per Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, betting and gambling comes in the State list,” he said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
According to the minister, 19 states and union territories have passed new legislation to address the issue, replacing the old ones, while 17 states have amended their public gambling acts to include internet gambling.
“Unfortunately, there is no meaning of the state’s boundary in the digital world. My point is that we are very responsible. Lawmakers should come with a consensus and we should then have a central act which basically has been drafted in consultation with everybody to effectively regulate online games and online gambling,” he said.
According to Vaishnaw, the national government is quite gravely concerned about how online gaming and gambling are affecting society.
“In such a situation, the government has taken the first right step by treating online gaming apps and websites as intermediaries and brought them under the intermediaries act.I think that’s a very good first step and as we create more consensus with the state governments, I think we should have a central law on this,” he said.
The society is affected by addiction to online gaming, especially online gambling, he continued, so the regulation must be “extremely strict.”
Though more than half of the industry’s revenue comes from skill-based real money gaming, various state governments, notably those of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, and Karnataka, have criticised the practise. Due to the fact that gambling is a state issue, these states have either outright prohibited it or attempted to do so.
Later, skill-gaming businesses and industry associations challenged many of these restrictions in state courts, and the suspensions were lifted. The Supreme Court upheld fantasy sports as a skill-based game in July 2021.
A state law cannot be applied against a foreign operator therefore it is crucial a federal rule is essential to combat the threat posed by unlawful offshore gambling operators, as per the industry stakeholders.