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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Norms for online and fantasy gaming soon: Telangana government

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The Telangana government is coming up with new rules for online and fantasy gaming which will encourage self-regulation and game development in the state, a senior state government official said on Wednesday. Telangana was the first state to ban online and fantasy gaming alleging that it resorts to gambling.

Telangana principal secretary for industries and commerce and IT Jayesh Ranjan said that the present scenario around fantasy sports are “a bit muddied and complicated” at present but the state government is bringing new norms which will make the state a role model for other states.

“In Telangana also there has been push back in the past. I have taken this responsibility upon myself personally to get a very simple and industry friendly piece of regulation in place of what already exists. I have consulted everyone who is involved in this domain.

“The draft regulation that we have prepared has been shared with everyone. I am preparing ground for this progressive piece of regulation to be introduced in our state,” Ranjan said at a seminar organised by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).

He said that the regulation which exists in Telangana as of now was largely driven by the police department because they had certain apprehensions about the way online gaming happens.

“The new piece of regulation that we have drafted has been shared with the police department. They are involved in every process. Only after their complete satisfaction, we will take it to the next level- before our minister, law department cabinet etc.

“It is a matter of time but I can assure you will see regulation from Telangana where not only self regulation but development will also be encouraged. I am very confident that this will be a role model for other states as well,” Ranjan said.

Indiatech CEO Rameesh Kailasam said that multiple court rulings have given adequate clarity and accorded legitimacy to online gaming formats including fantasy sports, however, in certain states such as Telangana, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland such online formats are not allowed if they involve any money.

Retired IAS officer and FSRA chairman Bimal Jhulka said that fantasy sports is a sunrise sector in India and it has already overtaken the US with 12 crore users and contributed Rs 3,000 crore to the exchequer.

He said that the fantasy sports sector has potential to contribute Rs 13,500 crore to the exchequer by means of taxes, create 12,000 additional jobs and attract Rs 10,000 crore in foreign direct investments.

Uttar Pradesh Law Commission chairman AN Mittal said that there is a very thin difference as far as gambling and gaming are concerned and any game can be converted into gambling and gambling is bad.

“Gambling should not be permitted. There are some disadvantages also of online gaming and fantasy sports. New generation is becoming addicted to it. There are also various cyber frauds in the name of online gaming and online gambling. In the recent past there have been some games which incite to commit suicide,” Mittal said.

He said that the law commission has redefined cyberspace under a proposal submitted to the government around online gaming.

“As far as shaping of fantasy sports in UP is concerned, we have proposed in the new law there should be regulatory authority because there is no self regulatory body or authority to control such activities. The Internet has no boundaries. The operators in India should be given licence. Fantasy sports are completely different from online gaming. Games of skills must be developed,” Mittal said.

Invest India director and CEO Deepak Bagla said that online gaming is expected to see a huge push once 5G services are rolled out in India.

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