Indian Lawmaker Calls for Tougher Regulation on Online Gaming

Online gaming may soon come under fire from government officials if BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house in the country’s parliament, is to have his way. Speaking on Friday, Modi called for a uniform tax on the online gaming industry, citing growing addiction to mobile gaming among youth as one of the reasons why.

Addiction and Gambling-like Elements Brought Up

He said that mobile and other online games have given way to gambling and betting elements, which Modi thought impacted youths negatively. His suggestion has been picked by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu who referred the matter to Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister of communications, electronics & information technology.

Modi called the gaming industry a “big addiction,” and likened it to the lack of regulation that is currently reigning in the crypto industry. India briefly proposed a full ban on crypto in November, but the decision was quickly dismissed.

He then added that the government should establish a comprehensive framework for the regulation of online gaming and introduce a uniform tax. Without regulation, Modi cautioned, children would be far more susceptible to developing an addiction. He further stressed the increase in betting and gambling aspects of the online gaming experience.

“Crores and crores of youngsters have become addictive (sic) to online gaming. As it is online, it is very difficult to prevent kids from getting addicted. And now, (sic) this online gaming has been converted into gambling or betting.”

BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi

Millions of Gambling Addicts in the Making?

The crore is an Indian unit of measurement that denotes 10 million of something, usually people. In this case, millions of players who Modi fears are addicted to gambling. Modi cautioned that 430 million people are online gaming in India with the number expected to reach over 650 million by 2025. Modi did not elaborate on what specific elements of online games were akin to gambling or betting.

However, there has been a growing call by regulators and parents worldwide to offer more clarity on specific gambling-like elements in gaming, to name loot boxes. Brazil and the United Kingdom are just two jurisdictions where the topic has been broached. Regulators in the United States and Australia has been actively looking into the matter.

Skin gambling was banned in 2016 in the fallout of a Bloomberg article and a class-action lawsuit against Valve, the company that developed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. Valve was accused of facilitating underage gambling in the lawsuit, because of the company’s alleged inaction on blocking third-party websites from using skins (digital frills and cosmetics of no real-world value) as a betting currency.

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