India is the fifth-largest online gaming market globally, and skill-based gaming has given rise to an increasing number of unicorns in the state, AIGF CEO Roland Landers said.
“The move by the Karnataka government in tabling the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act, 2021, is highly regressive in nature, and a huge setback to the state’s reputation of being a tech-hub and start-up capital,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Karnataka Assembly
passed by voice vote an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, which seeks to ban online games that are “games of chance”. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, speaking on the legislation, said the proposed law does not prohibit online games that strictly comply with “games of skill” features.
“These players, who represent India in domestic and international level tournaments such as the 2018 Asian Games and World Series of Poker, look to this globally accepted sector as a means to their livelihood, which has already witnessed a severe impact due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said PK Misra, president – players association at AIGF. “I really hope the state is able to review this matter and to adhere to a clear distinction between gambling and skill-based gaming.”
Misra said there has been support for online skill-based gaming in the past. “Considering the support that the online skill-based gaming sector has received in past rulings by both the Supreme Court — under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, and various Karnataka High Court judgements, the move by the Karnataka government in tabling the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act, 2021 comes as a real setback to the large professional players community that resides in the state,” he added.
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AIGF said skill-based gaming cannot be compared with gambling, and banning is not a solution. The sector needs the support of state governments to promote initiatives towards responsible gaming. The sector has been a strong financial contributor to the Indian economy and is expected to generate revenues of over $3 billion by 2025, Landers said.
AIGF’s key objective is to ensure global best practices across the online skill gaming ecosystem through effective self-regulation for members and other stakeholders, including responsible gaming and player protection. Its members follow a self-regulation charter based on the principles of transparency, integrity and responsible gaming and is aimed towards the purpose of self-regulating all games of skill played online in pay-to-play formats.