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Taking money from employers, faking a kidnapping for ransom, committing a robbery, and even taking their own life can drive online gamblers to the point of desperation. While gambling for money in India has been a ‘pastime’ for decades – indoors or even outdoors, on open lawns and street corners where men gather to play teenage Patty and rum – the pandemic has, as much as anything, forced online gaming. Add to that the availability of cheap data, the rise of digital transactions, higher smartphone penetration and the rapid expansion of gaming supply and quality, and you have a potent mix.
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Delhi-based psychiatrist Dr Pankaj Kumar said there has been a 15-20% increase in the number of people seeking treatment for gambling addiction since the ban. For most people, it starts as a hobby that turns into an addiction. Gamblers are under the false belief that they can quit at any time.
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That’s what happened to 17-year-old Ashwin*, who started a few games to redeem his reward points. He received gifts that further piqued his interest. What started as fun and games quickly turned into a habit. He went from casual games to playing for money, borrowing money from friends and stealing valuables from the house, even gaining access to his father’s bank account.
He withdrew more than 2 million GEL in small amounts in one year. When his father confronted him, he denied it. Believing her denial, her father even contacted the police. Only then did the teenager admit his addiction. His parents paid off the loans and believed his promises that he would never play again. However, the boy soon started working and started asking his parents for money. When his father refused, he became aggressive and beat him.
“Only then did the father realize that his son might kill him out of anger,” says Dr Kumar. The teenager was brought to a doctor for help this year and is currently undergoing psychiatric treatment.
Gambling releases dopamine, which makes it addictive. Dr Manoj Sharma, a professor at the NIMHANS Bengaluru SHUT (Healthy Use of Technology) clinic on technology addiction, said boredom and lack of work are the reasons why people are online during the pandemic.
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“Players start with casual games, then move on to paid games and then to higher stakes. While each win brings high payouts, each loss leaves the player feeling guilty, regretful, and at the same time hoping that they will make up for their losses by playing more games. When they realize they cannot make up for their losses, they experience feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and failure, which can lead to desperate actions. “
These risks are greater for minors. Some websites do not perform Know Your Customer (KYC) or other age verification. This gives minors easy access to these websites, exposing them to inappropriate content and encouraging them to engage in illegal activities. It also notes that “Gambling is associated with higher financial distress and lower financial inclusion and planning, higher rates of future unemployment and physical disability, and, most acutely, significantly increased mortality. “
A Delhi-based garment merchant took to gambling during the lockdown. Dr Kumar says, “Eventually he started diverting stocks and selling them at a loss to fuel his gambling habit. Within two years, their business collapsed, they fell into debt, and they had to withdraw their children from private school and send them to public school. Although the merchant denied it, the family eventually sought medical attention. “It took three months and after medication, psychotherapy, counselling, her condition improved,” said Dr Kumar.
Although the Public Gambling Act of 1867 made betting and gambling illegal in India (except in some states such as Sikkim and Nagaland), a colonial-era law made an exception by legalizing games of skill. Later court decisions recognized rummy, chess, and poker as games of skill rather than chance. But concerns about gambling addiction have prompted the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to pass laws banning gambling for money. However, some bans have been successfully challenged and overturned by the courts, which have recognized games such as rummy and poker as skill-based and legal. The governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka challenged this in the SC, where the case is currently pending. In fact, the Governor of Tamil Nadu on Friday approved an ordinance banning online gambling.
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Local gaming companies argue that laws vary from state to state and lack uniformity. They also argue that while Indian companies are subject to tax laws with a Bengaluru-based online gaming company accused of the largest indirect window notice in history – Rs 21,000 – companies registered outside the country are exempt from the laws. frame.
At the same time, advertisements on such websites continue to be disclaimed. For example, in December 2020, ads from offshore betting sites were shown during live cricket matches between India and Australia. Many use cricket and Bollywood stars for endorsements. Self-regulatory body the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) has called for central regulation to protect the interests of players and the industry.
“We understand that gaming is an immersive experience and players can go to extremes, but bans are not the answer. We are looking for soft regulation that will help grow the legal industry and protect players’ interests,” said EGF CEO Samer Barde. The federation has already introduced a code of conduct for its members that includes age restrictions, player restrictions, spending and money and KYC norms for under-age gambling. To prevent gaming, the government created a task force in August to develop policies for the sector.
Technology and gaming lawyer Jay Saita says all games should be regulated. “All games – whether based on skill or chance – must be regulated and taxed to ensure compliance, or the industry will go underground and continue to be illegal. “
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Digital or land-based casino games are governed by state-level laws in India. Casino games are games of chance and are therefore prohibited by most state-level anti-gambling laws (“Gaming Laws”). The state of Sikkim allows casino games such as roulette and blackjack to be offered.
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(the “Sikkim Act”) and provided that the Games can only be offered through intranet terminals. The state of Meghalaya passed the law
(the “Meghalaya Act”) allows operators to operate slots, roulette, keno, wheel of fortune, etc. in the state. Allows you to obtain a license to offer online and land-based gambling.
Under the Sikkim Act, the authority is the Department of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure, under the Meghalaya Act, the State Government is the licensing authority and the Excise Commissioner administers the licensing process.
India’s northeastern states of Sikkim and Meghalaya, the state of Goa, and the western union territories of Daman and Diu regulate land-based casino gaming.
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The relevant authorities are the Department of Home Affairs in Goa, the Department of Tourism in Sikkim and the State Government in Meghalaya.
Apart from the states of Sikkim, Nagaland and Meghalaya, which regulate games of skill, and Tamil Nadu (which outright bans real money poker), skill variants of poker are not regulated in any other state. in Nagaland,
For casino poker, please see the relevant cell above under casino games. However, certain skill variants of poker (such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em) are not subject to prohibitions under the Laws of the Game (see the relevant line below under “Games of Skill”) and therefore these variants may be played. Physical buildings too.
Although the game of bingo can come in many different formats, each of these formats (online or land-based) falls under the category of lottery or gambling. In the latter case, they would be banned under most laws of the game. Please note that only some states regulate this for lotteries
The Indian Online Gambling Market Statistics
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