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12 Apr 2022

Dean Kuriakose, a congress member from Kerala on 1 April 2022 introduced The Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022 (Bill) in the Lok Sabha as a Private Member's Bill. The Bill introduced by Dean Kuriakose said it intends to regulate the online gaming industry to prevent fraud and misuse. 

The Bill contemplates establishing an Online Gaming Commission which is to be constituted by the Central Government. The gaming operators will be required to obtain a license from the Gaming Commission.  The Commission shall have the power to oversight the functioning of online gaming websites and take measures to curb illegal online gaming. 

The Bill, however, excludes persons providing backend services like hosting and maintenances services, for any international gaming website based outside India from out of the ambit. 

A Bill can be introduced in the Parliament either by a Minister or a member other than a Minister. In the former case, it is called a Government Bill and in the latter case, it is known as a Private Member's Bill.  Private Member's Bills rarely become laws and are used to attract media attention and create awareness about issues not previously in the limelight. 

Three High Courts namely Kerala, Madras, and Karnataka in recent times have held online gaming ban laws as unconstitutional. The Madras and Karnataka High Court decisions are challenged before the Supreme Court

Betting and gambling, entertainment fall under the State list and it is not clear under which Union entry the bill proposed by Dean Kuriakose falls. The Bill does not consider the existing licensing regimes in the three North-Eastern states of India. 

India is among the top five mobile gaming markets in the world. A report by Statista estimated the Indian skill gaming industry's market value was around Rs 9,000 crore in FY20; it was expected to cross Rs 14,300 crore in FY22. 

As per KPMG-FICCI 2021 report, India's gaming market is projected to reach Rs. 143 billion (US$ 2.03 billion) by FY22 up from just Rs. 62 billion in FY 2021. The mobile gaming market in India is projected to hit a $5 billion opportunity by 2025 from the current $1.5 billion, according to a recent Sequoia India and Boston Consulting Group report

Dr Shashi Tharoor who also represents Kerala in the Lok Sabha, in December 2018 introduced a similar bill called “The Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018”, in December 2018 which lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. 

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