EPWA on proposed TN Gaming Ban: “We are Skill Gamers, not Gamblers”

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The Esports Players Welfare Association (EPWA) has requested the Tamil Nadu government not to brand online skill-based gamers as ‘gamblers’. EPWA has made this request in the backdrop of government seeking public comments on a proposed gaming ban law. The state government has constituted a committee headed by Justice Chandru in June which gave a report favouring a ban.

The Justice Chandru report said the relationship between gambling and suicide was well-established. At the individual level, gambling addiction often led to serious effects, including loss of jobs, failed relationship and a severe debt. It could cause mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, mood disorders and self-harming tendencies.

EPWA makes a special request to the Tamil Nadu government

In its representation to Tamil Nadu’s Department of Home, Prohibition, and Excise Department on August 11, EPWA recommended that online skill-based players “shall not be branded as gamblers (or addicts).”

Two Indian chess prodigies from India have also lent their weight to this plea. Grandmaster Ankit Rajpara said, “The central government needs to take some action with regards to these arbitrary bans. In the past the central government has given comfort to players in stakeholder meetings that we will not be treated as criminals, however state governments continue to do the opposite.”

Shivani Jha, Director, EPWA said “Multiple legislations and putting skill based games in the same bucket as gambling is leading to criminalisation of skill based players. While India is participating in international tournaments and developers are making new games, it is imperative for the state to regulate online skill based gaming. Moreover, courts have repeatedly pronounced judgments stating the state government can only make laws on online gambling and not gaming, this ends up putting players at risk and equating them with gamblers and criminals.

EPWA last month participated in discussions with Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on a need for central regulatory framework for online gaming.