Of late, online gambling has been at the forefront of discussions lately in India. And whether it should be banned or not, it is a completely different discussion to have at a later time because we’re here to look at an important development in the gambling space today. Several online gaming websites might be banned by the state government next, including EA.com, MiniClip, and Zapak.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has asked Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to block 132 websites in the state, owing to the dangers posed by online gambling. Nevertheless, in the letter sent by the CM to the IT minister, there are several sites that have nothing to do with online gambling at all, including EA.com, which is one among the biggest and most well-known game developers in the world and best known for its series of sports games like FIFA and NHL, as well as mobile games like Bejeweled and SimCity.
The Union Government has so far banned 224 apps since the first “Chinese app ban that took place in June. At present, CM Reddy in his letter asking for the ban of 132 websites argues that online gambling should also be banned as it leads “to youth getting involved in wrongdoing like gambling and betting from the comfort of their homes, through their mobile phones and computers.”
It will certainly lead to some controversy, as many of the apps in the list from the CM are defined in many parts of the country as “games of skill,” and therefore are not seen as gambling. Nonetheless, this is not the case for Andhra Pradesh, which — as noted in the letter — amended the AP Gambling Act, 1974, to include online gaming and gambling is an offense, the notification for which was issued this September.
The important point to note that online gaming in the CM’s letter does not appear to mean playing multiplayer games like Among Us, or even competitive online games like Frontline. It is quite clear that while gambling or betting in the usual form can be easily identified, “online gambling and betting remains elusive. Also, it is more interesting is that the list, which does include some online betting sites and “fantasy sports” platforms including MPL (Mobile Premier League) and Paytm First Games, leaves out many other “real money gaming” apps which feature games like Rummy and Poker. Needless to say, we’re all for a decision that’s going to have a positive impact on society, but we think the list needs a second look.
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