NEW DELHI: The online skill gaming industry recommends government think tank Niti Aayog to set up a single self-regulatory body to standardize regulations governing the entire skill gaming industry.
Like fantasy sports, India’s skill gaming industry suffers from the same byzantine set of state-by-state laws and regulations. There is an equal, if not a larger need, to regulate the broader skill gaming industry.
In a draft report titled “Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India”, Niti Aayog has suggested setting up a single self-regulatory body for fantasy sports. The think tank has invited stakeholder comments on the draft by January 18, 2021.
“Size of India’s overall online skill gaming industry is estimated to be around Rs 5,250 crore, according to KPMG. The fast-growing skill-based games like Rummy account for approximately 50% of the overall industry revenues. Fantasy sports is a part of the overall skill gaming industry. At TORF, we have worked with global gaming regulatory experts from the US and Europe to design transparent, professional, and ethical operating standards for the online Rummy industry called the ‘Code of Conduct’,” said Sameer Barde, CEO, The Online Rummy Federation, the self-regulatory body for the country’s online rummy industry.
“The aim is to prescribe and enforce a range of measures for online rummy operators that bring more responsibility to their operations and enhance their credibility and integrity, which we believe would also serve as a great starting point for the self-regulatory body for the industry.”
The Supreme Court has consistently held that skill games are legitimate and constitutionally protected commercial activities that can be played or organized for gain and profit.
“The Supreme Court has since the 1960s distinguished games of skills from gambling and upheld the constitutional right to play and offer such games of skill. Once a game is determined to be a game of skill, its legality is undeniable and so is its ability to be played or organized for profit or gain. Various Supreme Court as well as High Court decisions lend credence to this proposition. Rummy has been held to be a game of skill by the Supreme Court and various high courts,” said Vaibhav Kakkar, Partner at L&L Partners.
“Similarly, various high courts in very elaborate and detailed decisions, have also determined online fantasy leagues to be a game of skill. Currently, the mode of operation of fantasy games and other online games of skill remains the same- the gaming companies provide an online platform to play the skill-based games in lieu of a platform fee. Based on established legal jurisprudence of more than 60 years, as well as recognized global principles, we expect the Supreme Court to also follow the same rationale as that of the high courts and endorse fantasy leagues as a game of skill in the current litigation.”