Rajasthan budget 2022: State to enact a law regulating online skill-based games

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Rajasthan Chief Minister who also holds the portfolio of finance in his budget speech today announced that the state will bring a law to regulate online skill-based games including fantasy sports. The three-time chief minister used the term regulate (नियंत्रित) than banning the online games as was done in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Like most major states, Rajasthan is believed to be contemplating a law to regulate the online industry for the past year. Apart from Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu that imposed sweeping bans, Meghalaya and Sikkim have come up with their online skill gaming policies while Uttar Pradesh has constituted a commission to prepare a draft of law “that is based on differentiation between games of skill and games of chance.”

The Rajasthan High Court in July 2021 dismissed a plea seeking a ban on providing or playing online fantasy games in the State after noting that such a direction would contradict Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Also read: Madhya Pradesh to enact a law to regulate online games

A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Satish Kumar then observed, “We are, therefore, of the view that offering of online fantasy sports in accordance with the Charter of the FIFS has already been judicially recognized as a business and consequently, entitled to protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and the prayer seeking directions to the State Government to prohibit the same would be opposed to Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.” Rajasthan High Court has dismissed a similar petition in 2020.

The state has seen gaming addiction-related suicides in the past few months. Earlier, the Rajasthan government issued an advisory for parents and teachers suggesting measures to safeguard children from addiction to online gaming. The advisory issued by the Rajasthan Council of School Education details technical points which are helpful in monitoring the activities and involvement of the children in gaming. 

The Tamil Nadu government law that imposed a sweeping ban on online gaming for stakes was quashed by the Madras High Court in August 2021, post which the DMK government moved the Supreme Court against the order. A similar decision was delivered this month by the Karnataka High Court concerning the law enacted by the state.