Lok Sabha: MPs ask questions on ban of internet games, govt to respond on Wednesday (Dec 8)

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Sikar MP Swami Sumedhanand Saraswati and Bharatpur MP Ranjeeta Kohli raised questions in the Lok Sabha regarding any proposal for the ban of internet games. The queries are posed as starred questions meaning the concerned minister is required to provide oral answers in the house.

Here are the questions put by the MPs:

a. whether the Government is aware of the availability of a large number of games on the internet which is not only wasting the time of our young generation but is also making them addicted to gambling and thereby causing heavy financial loss to the youth and their parents;
b. whether the Government proposes to ban these games;
c. if so, the details thereof; and
d. if not, the reasons therefore?

The Minister of Electronics and Information Technology will respond to the queries on December 8.

This is not the first time online gaming will be a matter of discussion in the Parliament. Earlier during budget session 2021, Jagdambika Pal, MP from Domariyaganj posed questions regarding “Gaming and e-Sports Policy” in India.

Sports being a State subject, the primary responsibility for development and promotion of sports rests with the respective State/UT Government. The Department of Sports supplements efforts of theState/UT Government through its various schemes. Presently, there is no proposal under consideration to bring sports and gaming to concurrent list,” Minister Kiren Rijiju responded in February 2021.

On plans to curb illegal betting/gambling, minister Rijiju responded saying, “betting and gambling is a State Subject (Entry at serial number 34 in the List II- State List of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India), therefore, the State authorities are responsible to regulate/curb illegal gaming, betting and gambling in their respective States. The Law Commission in its Report No. 276 titled “ Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India” submitted to the Government on 5th July, 2018, stated that legalizing betting and gambling is not desirable in India in the present scenario.”

States have in the recent times, enacted laws to ban online games which are challenged before High Courts. The Madras High Court judgement quashing the online gaming ban law is now appealed by the state government before the Supreme Court.

While Mobile Premier League (MPL) remains one of the core sponsors of Indian cricket team’s jersey, Dream11 was the title sponsor of Indian Premier League in 2020, a testament to the growing popularity of this fantasy sports and RMG in general. Recently, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has indicated that the ‘Draft Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India’ released by the NITI Aayog in December 2020 as well as the need for a central regulatory framework for online gaming in India may be deliberated upon by the Council of Ministers. Top operators and investors have looked at PMO’s recent move with surprise.