Globally India having the second largest online population, Online Games have become big business in India. Gambling has become one of the most popular and lucrative businesses
on Internet. Online Games are attracting 75 % of youth, majorly male. Online Games in India amounted to lakhs of crores revenue in 2016 and future looks beyond imaginary.
Indian software and mobile revolution has drawn plenty of attention in the last couple of years due to cheaper cost of console devices, high technology and well developed infrastructure of e-payments resulted in Online Game Industry witnessing massive evolution silently. Internet provided platform to bet or gamble without cognisance of parents and family members and get addicted to various Online Games such as Lottery, Racing, Betting, No Deposit Casino, Rummy, Poker Etc. Annual game tournaments are organised around the world and sponsors offer great prizes. According to recent survey, three Indian companies Teen Patti, Ultimate Teen Patti, Teen Patti Gold occupied top 4, 6 and 8th ranks in the world.
Do they hold any legality in India?
India has no dedicated laws and frame work to deal with legal issues of online games. As gambling is a state subject, different states have reacted differently in this regard. Few states allow games of skills while other states prohibited them in all forms. This has given rise to an inter-state conflict that the central government is required to resolve. This issue became more complicated since the Supreme Court recognised rummy as game of skill.
Online gaming companies of India are now required to comply with multiple laws of India, both central and state. Most of them are not complying with techno legal requirements of different laws of India. Take the example of online gaming website terms and conditions about users from a particular territory are not allowed to access or play, yet the website doesn’t prohibit any users. Anonymity is one of the major drawbacks in Online Gaming and gaming companies appoint professionals for gaining big profits by cheating common, innocent public. As the legal framework for website blocking in India is still evolving, blocking may not be a good and long term solution.
PERCEPTIONS OF PROFESSIONALS
“Receiving complaints against the online rummy firms accusing them of cheating customers through manipulation.”
Avinash Mohanthy I.P.S., Deputy Commissioner of Police – Central Crime Station (Cyber Crime – Detective Department), Hyderabad
“Government collecting huge taxes, but forgetting action on its fraudulent steps”
Mula Vikram Goud, Sreshta Movies Banner, Film Producer, Hyderabad
“Appropriate and immediate Law reforms to be initiated, Supreme Court of India should ban Online Gaming sites performing Gambling activities”
Venkateshwara Reddy, Sr. Advocate of High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
“No proper research done on impact of online games till today”
Dr. Kasupa Balaraju Ph.D.(Social Work), Asst. Professor & former HoD, Social Work Dept., Osmania University, Hyderabad
“Lack of IT knowledge in Government and Courts is mere point for Online Gambling”
Shankar Ganeshan, Journalist, Chennai
“Causing serious health problems and leads to obesity, mental stress etc.”
Dr. Harivardan Lukka, General Physician, Visakhapatnam, A. P.
“Students loosing valuable time, Parents are unable to monitor these activities”
Vanja Srinivas, Government Junior College Lecturer, Mahabubnagar, T. S.
“Telangana Government already initiated few steps like prohibiting Online Rummy etc, I strongly welcome it. As a legislative, I try my level best to recommend the Government to bring new laws”
Ala Venkateshwara Reddy, MLA – Devarakadra Assembly Constituency, Mahabubnagar Dist., T.S.
“Youth getting addicted to online gambling”
former BJP legislator Yennam Srinivas Reddy
“Wasting valuable time of students”
Dr. Sampath Ph.D. (Psychology), Asst. Prof. Kakatiya University, Warangal, T.S.
“Possibility of hacking both nations and individual data, threat to youth life”
Narinder from Chandigarh, Retd. Radar Engineer, Indian Army
“Breaking family relationships”
Narmada from Hyderabad, Women welfare association representative
“Big Level Gambling”
Bhanu Prakash, Student Leader, Warangal
“Government should take serious action against such gamblers”
Dr. Satvika, Post Graduate Medical Science Student, Hyderabad
“Wasting of time and money”
Radha Dendi, High School Teacher (Social Studies), Ranga Reddy Dist., T.S.
“World Online Games Championship 2017 in China itself is the witness of public addiction to online games”
S. Varma, Chairman Selection Committee A.P. Volleyball Association, former National Volleyball Player
“The differing rules from state-to state and meeting those guidelines can be challenging“ Anuj Gupta, cofounder of Adda52
“It is a 100% legal business and a lot of investments have been coming into this sector. All the games of skill are legal under the Gaming Act.”
Deepak Gullapalli, Chief executive of Head InfoTech India, which owns ace2three.com
“I have lost more than Rs. 5 Lakhs in just 1 1/2 year, and found maximum gambling takes place during late nights in big bets”
Jagadish from Kakinada, A.P., Online Gaming user
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
With reference to Indian Laws
Public Gambling Act,1867 prohibits running or being in charge of a public gaming house. The Information Technology Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India and prohibits online gambling. Online gambling is a banned offence in the state of Maharashtra and Telangana. Despite the existing prohibitive legislations, there is extensive illegal gambling throughout the country.
According to decided cases
Various courts in India have examined the difference between the game of skill and game of chance in following Indian judicial pronouncements:
- In State of Andhra Pradesh Vs. K. Satyanarayana & Others, the Supreme Court (“Apex Court”) stated that “Rummy requires certain amount of skill and it is preponderantly a game of skill.”
- In M.J. Sivani & Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka, the Apex Court observed, “Even a skilled player in a game of mere skill may be lucky or unlucky, so it is not practical to decide whether a particular game is of skill or chance. It depends upon the facts, in each case.”
- In Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, The Apex Court stated “Games may be of chance, or of skill or of skill and chance combined. It is the dominant element – “skill” or “chance”, which determines the character of the game.”
- In State of Bombay Vs. R. M. D. Chamarbaugwalal, the Apex Court ruled that games where success depends on a substantial skill will not fall into category of ‘gambling’.
- The Courts have also opined that that the degree of skill required in games played in a physical form cannot be equated with those played online and games conducted by gaming sites offering prize money are illegal in states which prohibit gambling.
Reference of few legal exercises
- Very recently i.e. on June 16, 2017 state of Telangana has passed an ordinance redefining Online Gaming in the Telangana Gaming Act, 1974 and including Cyber Crime in Preventive Detention Act which is approved by Governor.
- Public Interest Litigation was filed by the state of Maharashtra to ban sale of online lottery and Crime Investigation Department of the Andhra Pradesh police had sought a ban on the website of Playwin which had allegedly sold online lottery. Telangana police filed a case against Ace2Three based on complaints that the company was duping players by manipulating its software.
- Police in several states had earlier slapped cases against online and offline gaming firms in a bid to rein them in, forcing the affected companies to approach Court. The Supreme Court dismissed a clutch of petitions by various state governments seeking legal clarity on whether rummy could be considered a game of skills, and left the matter to the state and central governments to decide.
- States Sikkim, Delhi and Goa have made special enactments to allow online gambling. In India, the enactments essentially allow such Games of skill to be played online.
- Testimony of a recent case in Hyderabad:
The Hyderabad Cyber Crime police have booked a criminal case against the city-based online rummy company ‘ace2three’ for allegedly duping players. Deputy Commissioner of Police Avinash Mohanty said a case was booked against the online rummy gaming company after a complainant alleged that he was duped and lost Rs. 10 Lakhs by manipulation of software
- Testimony of an Indian Online Games company:
Indiagames founded in 1999 is India’s largest integrated game developer-publisher across mobile, online and the Interactive Television. The company has been a breaking new ground in the mobile gaming space and has partnered with several major game publishers and media companies in the world. Some of Indiagames successful titles include the first Spider-Man game on mobile, Garfield. In 2011, Indiagames was acquired by Disney for around $100 million. At the time of acquisition, it was making a profit of $4,00,000 on revenues of $11 million .
- Testimony of Rummy, which is turning out to be a great bet for the exit-starved Start-up investors.
Venture capital firm Matrix Partners India has made over 20 times returns by selling its stake in online rummy gaming company Ace2Three.The transaction is one of the rare large-cash exits in the Indian start-up ecosystem, but not for players running rummy businesses. The deal comes as investors in Adda52, saw similar returns of 22 times when it was acquired by Delta for Rs. 155 crore in September 2016. Another start-up in the space is RummyCircle, owned by Tiger Global Management-backed PlayGames24x7.
These start-ups are highly profitable, with margins as high as 35%. The gaming space has also started to see the interest of global investors from markets like the US and UK, besides private equity firms who prefer cash-generating businesses.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
- To know the socio economic and demographic characteristics of the respondents
- To understand the reasons for online games addiction and associated problems of younger generations
Following standard snd scientific methodology, data collected from 100 respondents from whom 80 are male and 20 are female through direct interaction, telephonic conversation, using social media etc procedures. The cities and towns covered in this survey are Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Chandighar,Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Bhimavaram, Vijayawada, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda etc. These places are chosen for the reason for being identified highly gambling affected areas in Online Gaming. After receiving responses from respondents, formulated them in standard Tabular columns with respect to specific questions to respondents divided in seven major categories, the reports are as follows:
TABLE 1: Gender percentage of people playing online Games
Table 1 reveals that the percentage of Male playing Online Games is 80% whereas women remained with just 20%
Age wise players
Table 2 explains that, Majority of Online Game playing found in 21-30 age group, followed 31-40 and 41-60 age groups, lastly in below 20 and above 60 age groups
TABLE 3: Playing experience in years by age
Table 3 states that, Youth have been playing online games since 2 years and the middle aged i.e. 41-60 age group have been playing since 5 years, Below 20 years and senior citizens are playing since only a year
TABLE 4: Monthly Income and expense spent on online games by age
Table 4 shows the variations of their expenses against their income, interestingly age group 41-60 spending Rs. 15,000/- per month standing at top place, following youth spending Rs. 8,000/- per month, below 20 years Rs. 2,500/- and lastly senior citizens are not making out any expenses though they are earning Rs. 50,000/- per month.
TABLE 5: Total Gain or loss on online games by age
Table 5 explains that, the middle age group is slightly earning whereas in all other cases they are loosing 2 to 3 times to that of their gainings.
TABLE 6: Age wise respondents opinion feeling their opponent players are not authenticated and the percentage of Gambling taking place
Table 6 reveals that, irrespective of their age groups 85 % of users stated that they feel their opponent players are not authenticated, coming to opinion on gambling senior citizens said 80 % of gambling taking place, youth thinks only 40 % gambling taking place on the whole
TABLE 7: Age wise perception of Users about legality of online games
and suggest others to play or not
Table 7 stated that, 40 % of youth are continuing playing though they know that it is illegal, and 50 % age group 41-60 , 100 % of senior citizens experienced as illegal, surprising majority of all age groups irrespective of their gains or loss they are advising others “not to play.”
Youth is backbone of India’s development, consisting of 55 % of the population. We have witnessed their undefined contribution in various sectors like IT, Medical, Space, Research, Business, Management, Political etc. Such an important generation need to be guided in a right direction to transform India into a developed country. For a larger gains of very few, Online Games have become poisonous habituation amounting indefinite loss on youth like amounting severe health issues, family disputes, discontinuation of studies/jobs, suicides, huge debts etc.
Being a social responsible citizen and student of Law, I would like to extend my research on Online Gaming. I will be interacting with users country wide, collect data, study and recommend necessary areas for suitable action. I will also publish articles, support to bring new Laws or amend existing Laws, help in coordination between state laws and central laws/acts, involve public representatives, administrators and judiciary authorities for fast implementation.
I strongly recommend that the central government to formulate techno legal laws urgently for online gaming and online gambling industry of India. This is required as the situation has become complex day to day due to inaction on the part of various states and central government. Good governance of Law, strengthening respective wings of concerned departments, involving NGO’s to initiate debates, seminars at all possible and applicable areas, etc. are my proposals to control the impact of Online Games on Young Indians, leaving victims as well as to eradicate Gambling, betting etc. to the maximum extent.