Games – They're supposed to be fun and a medium of relaxation. Of late, online gaming has taken the country by a storm and has almost replaced traditional methods of gaming. Especially, during the lockdown, the usage of internet gaming has skyrocketed. While, this particular piece of news might not be alarming, it certainly is not all fun and games. Online gaming is a double-edged sword, and can be quite dangerous. Unfortunately, the perils of online games do not stay contained in the virtual world and have real life impacts on its players and society at a large. Perhaps, this was the reason that a petition to ban online games was filed in the Madras High Court. This petition was filed by five defendants who had been caught a card came (with money), under Section 12 of the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930.
Much to the dismay of the petitioner, the Madras HC quashed the judgement. The judgement held that the Madras HC did not stand against online gaming or any virtual gaming experience. However, the Court recognised that these games might sometimes be harmful and can cause anguish to the player. Thus, the court proposed that a regulatory body should be set up that would monitor online gaming – both in the offline and online world.
Commenting on the judgement Mr. Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation states, “We laud the order of the Madras High Court which iterates that the Court is not against virtual gaming, and calls for the government to devise a regulatory framework to provide clarity to the sunrise online gaming industry with a view to encourage investments leading to technological advancements as well as generation of revenue and employment.”1
The court, while giving its judgement recognised that India has a rich history of sports. Since the beginning of times, India has adopted many games. These games have proved to be a great source of entertainment and also instils a sense of value system in the players. Sports resonate a feeling of oneness in the whole country that leads to unity. However, the court acknowledges that traditional forms of sports, while not obsolete, but are surely not the only form of gaming India is privy to.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that nowadays, almost in all the social media, youngsters are being attracted, to play such online games, by alluring with prize money. Gaming sites are also partaking a slice on the winning hand, as of a virtual gambling house.”2 Stated the court in its judgement.
While reaching its judgement, the Madras HC also assessed how people from all over the country are being roped into playing these games. The court also commented that these games like Rummy, Passion, Nazara, Leo Vegas, Spartan Poker, Ace2Three, PokerDangal, Pocket52, My11Circle, Genesis Casino, etc. specifically target unemployed youth by excessively posting their ads on social media
The bench added that “A comprehensive regulatory framework by a regulatory body is necessary to regulate the online sports and to curb any illegal activities as well. In fact, such regulation of online sports would encourage investment in the sector, which could lead to technological advancements as well as generation of revenue and employment.”
1 Indian Gaming Industry : Madras high court suggests regulating online games, Inside Sport, Jul 25th 2020, https:// www.insidesport.co/madras-high-court-suggests-regulating-online-games-quashing-an-fir-to-ban- online-games/, Last Visited : Jul 27th 2020, 17.52 PM
2 Madras HC suggests regulatory body for online games, India Legal, Jul 25th 2020, https:// www.indialegallive.com/top-news-of-the-day/top-story/madras-hc-suggests-regulatory-body-for- onlinegames#:~:text=The%20Madras%20High%20Court%20has,like%20Rummy%20that%20involves%20mone y.&text=The%20accused%20and%20cards%20and%20money%20were%20confiscated, Last Visited : Jul 27th 2020, 17.55 PM