Parents have moral authority to limit children’s exposure to online gambling: Madras HC

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“Parents have the moral responsibility to ensure children don’t access online gambling,” commented the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Monday. The division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices Mahadevan and Satya Narayan Prasad was hearing a public interest litigation pertaining to online gaming for stakes when it made these comments.

The petitioner prayed that online games for stakes and lottery are advertised to attract the young children and as a result, people under the age of 18 are playing and often getting addicted to online gaming for stakes.

The petitioner prayed for directions to make it mandatory for online gamers to verify the age by uploading Aadhaar or PAN card to sign up on online gaming portals.

The bench orally remarked that parents have the moral responsibility to ensure the children are not exposed to online gaming for stakes. The bench ordered notices to be issued to Union Finance Secretary and Secretary in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The case will be heard again after 2 weeks.

Recently, the Public Gambling Act of 1867 which governs online gaming for stakes has been deemed unfit “to cover/defend/deal” with digital-based activities, and the accompanying evolving technologies by an Inter-Ministerial Task Force (IMTF) established to investigate new regulations for online gaming.

States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have issued advisories to parents to limit children’s exposure to online gaming. While Tamil Nadu assembly recently passed a law to ban online gaming for stakes like rummy and poker. This bill is awaiting the assent of the governor. Governor RN Ravi wrote to the state government last week seeking certain clarifications on the Online Gaming Bill which was passed in the recently concluded assembly session. The Governor raised queries on doctrine of proportionality since the Madras High Court had struck down a similar law unconstitutional.

According to reports, the industry has sought a light-touch self-regulatory mechanism to regulate online gaming platforms under the aegis of a central government ministry.

The mobile gaming market in India is projected to hit a $5 billion opportunity by 2025 from the current $1.5 billion, according to a recent Sequoia India and Boston Consulting Group report.