TN Looks To Curb Online Gaming Spending, Time Limits

SUMMARY

The state’s nodal body for online gaming is said to have consulted senior representatives from the gaming industry to regulate usage instead of gaming platforms

While acknowledging that illegal and offshore betting platforms are still operating within India, Tamil Nadu is said to have given a higher priority to regulating domestic companies

Last year, the TN government banned several forms of online gaming, but this legislation has been legally challenged by the industry and is currently listed for hearing in the Supreme Court

The Tamil Nadu government is reportedly mulling a law to implement time and spending limits on users of online gaming and real money gaming platforms.

The Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Authority (TNOGA), a nodal body set up to regulate online gaming in TN, is said to have consulted senior representatives from the gaming industry to regulate users instead of gaming platforms, according to an ET report. The move is reportedly in line with the TN government’s steps to address online gaming and gambling addiction in the state.

According to minutes of TNOGA’s May 27 meeting with industry stakeholders, the nodal body says that minor and adult users of gaming platform guidance on the appropriate amount of time spent, even when there is no monetary involvement.

Incidentally, the meeting took place a few days before news reports indicated the central government is likely to bring in similar laws to curb addiction and spending on online real money gaming.

While acknowledging that illegal and offshore betting platforms are still operating within India, the TNOGA is said to have given a higher priority to regulating domestic companies and is looking to set a precedent for broader regulations

The Tamil Nadu government has been on the forefront of regulations tackling online gaming and gambling platforms. In March 2023, the state passed legislation banning online gambling, and the government included real money games such as rummy and poker under the ambit of the law.

Naturally, this drew concerns from industry players that have long argued that rummy, poker, fantasy games and some other real money games fall in the ‘games of skill’ category.

However, the rules were challenged by gaming companies in the Madras High Court which said the law could not be invoked to ban rummy and poker and other online games of skill.  The HC had ruled that the prohibition could apply only to games of chance, often clubbed under gambling.

This did not deter the state government, which took the fight to the Supreme Court. In fact, the TN government had appealed against a previous Madras HC order quashing an earlier law that sought to tackle online gaming platforms.

Both these cases are said to have been clubbed at the Supreme Court, though the combined appeals are yet to be heard by the SC.

Incidentally, the central government is also mulling a law to curb gaming addiction according to reports in late May 2024, before the new government was voted into power after the 2024 General Elections.

Last year, the centre amended the Information Technology Rules, 2021 to notify rules for the gaming industry. The gaming industry was given ninety days to form an SRO, failing which the government would form its own SRO. So far none of the SROs proposed by the industry bodies have been accepted.

It remains to be seen whether these approaches change due to the transition of officials within key government portfolios and cabinet ministries under the new government.

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