Karnataka Gaming Industry Urges Authorities to Review the Gaming Conundrum
Gaming studios and a host of supporting digital businesses may not be able to operate from Karnataka, experts fear. Even if skill gaming within state limits remains persecuted despite court decisions and legal traditions – tech startups need support and clarity on behalf of the State government.
Giving the Segment a Legitimate Chance
After the Karnataka government recently passed a blanket ban on online games for money, many in the tech industry feared that a renowned digital hub like Bengaluru will suffer the consequences. In fact, rising challenges to supporting digital services outside the circle of gaming operators prove some of the initial fears.
Countless animation, engineering, testing and digital marketing providers have been forced to reconsider commercial agreements, halt or even more operations. Others are anxious to see courts resolve the issue – one way or another – before foreign competitors take over and desi businesses lose the favor of local consumers.
In pragmatic terms, Karnataka authorities will need to provide guidance and legislation updates so that gaming and related tech companies continue to operate from within state limits, as long as they manage to keep local users away. Online casino games found on offshore casinos like 10Cric remain a challenge and prove the inefficiency of the new law. Yet it would be a good starting point for entrepreneurs and investors if they don’t have to completely shut down Bangalore offices.
A lasting distinction between skill and chance games is probably also on the cards. A series of court decisions has upheld the legitimacy of skill games, including a recent Madras High Court clarification that playing skill games for stakes is not betting or gambling. A Tamil Nadu gaming ban similar to the Karnataka one was called “excessive and disproportionate” while industry bodies often refer to Supreme Court decisions in support of online skill games like fantasy sports, poker or rummy.
High Standards (and Not Bans) Provide Protection
Empiric proof that player protection comes from regulated markets with stringent licensing requirements is found in case studies and topical research. The benefits of a Central-level gaming regulation offset the risks of offshore and black market gambling, provide standards and impose policies on licensed operators.
Supporting legitimate operators while holding them accountable leads to proper consumer support, addresses most problem gaming issues and provides a transparent financial framework. In turn, licensed operators improve user experience, invest in the local market and go the extra mile in supporting responsible gaming and welfare programs.
Pressing Need for Clarity
Industry numbers are clear – the gaming sector is at an inflection point, both in India and on a global scale. Desi companies need all the support possible to capitalize on their competitive advantages and slapping a blanket ban on one of the most developed regions is not a viable solution.
Vague definitions in Karnataka’s gaming ban speak of all computer systems, mobile devices and apps, software and accessories as means of gambling, which cannot possibly be the case. Protecting consumers and investors involves a better definition and quality support from state and Central legislators. The All India Gaming Federation, the Mobile Premier League and several other petitioners have addressed the Karnataka High Court in that sense, hoping for a swift resolution and some clarity in a crucial moment for India’s gaming startup ecosystem.