For some reason, we are scared to admit the truth and are shying away from things that bolster us. That is perhaps what makes us ignore the fact that an industry generating thousands of jobs in these bad times is being shown a tough time itself. We need to protect online gaming, or…
My non sequitir in the leader, ‘or, is as telling as it was when I truly lived my life, running on my treadmill each morning or night, or when I did something that my crazy heart decided. Because when I do these strenuous bits, the brain chugs faster. I don’t like what the cranium is telling me. It now portrays something fructuous, reports to me that we are steeping bad treatment on our own, misreading and step-mothering an industry that is handing out hope for the future, a sector that is growing despite the hollowed economy we face today.
Hollowing economy? Really? Yes. As a country, we are near-doomed in terms of industry sectors. Telecom. Aviation. Hospitality. Chemicals. Infrastructure. Real Estate. Ship-building.
If that be true, why on Earth are we shunning an industry that provides employment, growth and revenues to the Government? It is perhaps due to the fact that just because we don’t understand this sector, and we never have, we have mistaken games of skill as gambles and games of chance, nonchalantly labeled it as swindling. And did the vested nomenclature work? Yes. It did, leading to many Indian states banning online gaming as a sport. Is it a ‘sport’, though, you ask?
Well, the NITI Aayog agrees that it is, as does the Supreme Court, on four different occasions, ling that online gaming is far-distanced from ‘gambling’. Take a look at these observations from these two Government bodies, and then dwell. NITI Aayog, which replaced India’s Planning Commission, has had to take note of the surging growth in online gaming and suggest the setting up of a universal and centralized self-regulatory body to govern the sector, an independent board for oversights of any kind. NITI Aayog has also set in some disclaimers, including an age cap on Fantasy Games to users, capping the age limit at 18 years and above. NITI Aayog is also drafting ‘uniform operating rules’ for online gaming players, countrywide. Why the furore then?
Perhaps because despite these ceveats, many states in India refuse to acknowledge the authenticity of these claims and use our rather antiquated and still Anglais-dictated laws to rule large over the online gaming system.
Madam Curie found us mercury, the living truth in our thermometers, and perished in the process, it being poisonous and nauseous as hell. This new attempted regulation is more so. Never before has a new industry been ‘monstorized’ as much, and that is a new word I create today for the Oxford English dictionary. We are yet again attempting to beat back a dragon, without knowing what or where the dragon is.
Let’s accept a reality, that when we portray Real-Money Games (RMGs) as gambling, we run a risk of illegitimating skill games which continue to be protected under our Constitution as a ‘Fundamental Right to Trade and Profession’. Why, then, are we embarking on this unfortunate journey, ensconced with an improbable and unwanted result?
Let’s face it. Most states in India do not want to ban skill games—it is self-regulation that holds the axe, hoping to re-frame the law. Industry bodies like the All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF) have adopted good governance, ethical measures and consumer-focused moves. Let’s monitor the players and make sure that they follow the rules and not kill an industry that could recreate our future.
Someone needs to. And look at these numbers—while the Online Gaming space is scaling revenues of Rs 8,000 crore, set to expand to Rs 40,000 crore by 2024-25, the overall size of the Real-Money Gaming (RMG) and Skilled Gaming sectors is already in the region of Rs 20,000 annually. And they are both big employment-generators.
A feeling that all gaming companies tweak platforms to suit their needs is akin to being an imbecile. Monitor them. Police them. Cam them, scam them, if needed, but do not kill a sector only because it is raising its head and we are now used to most other bowing in submission—that is not what we want our economy and country to be.
Somewhere, someday, we need to figure this out—what is the price of remaining quiet, and what do we benefit by speaking out? I am speaking out? I play rummy on my phone. I play poker. What is wrong if I do that, in these times, even as my country benefits?
Article contributed By Rajeev Narayan ,a communications consultant and a clinical analyst.