Telangana to soon enact law permitting games of skill

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Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT), Government of Telangana on Thursday said the state government is working on a law to regulate online games of skill. He was speaking on the sidelines of the AIGF Knowledge Series on Meghalaya Regulation.

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The news is a welcome move given the fact Telangana is the first state to ban online games for stakes in 2017. Mr Ranjan said even when there is a ban, the people addicted to the online games have devised modes to evade the ban by use of VPNs and avoiding geo-location tracking.

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The bureaucrat said the industry is dynamic and evolving making a blanket ban not possible. He said the government does not have the bandwidth to regulate the dynamic sector.

Referring to the draft law, he said the law proposes to establish an oversight board comprising of government, retired judges, retired bureaucrats, and the industry which will look into questions of what is a game of skill and a game of chance. The oversight board will be an independent body with no undue influence from the government.

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The Secretary said various circumstances like addiction, misleading advertisements, and people ending up in debt led to the enactment of blanket ban laws by various states.

He concluded that even after regulation if the industry cannot alter those conditions that led to the ban, the states would have no option but to bring back blanket ban laws. He recommended the operators have potent checks, implement strict KYC, avoid misleading advertisements, offer anti-addiction measures, and stringent data protection safeguards to ensure past conditions that led to the ban do not recur again.