A blanket ban on online gambling is not a solution and the sector can provide many opportunities to boost the economy, create jobs and improve productivity, a senior Telangana government official said on Wednesday.
Telangana was among the states that banned online gambling, but is currently working on a policy allowing players to operate in the state with safeguards.
Telangana’s Principal Secretary for IT, Electronics and Communications, Jayesh Ranjan, during a speech at a gaming seminar organized by IAMAI, said the ban was motivated by gambling which has led to addiction for some people and ruined their families.
“We have always been certain that a general ban is not the solution. A distinction must be made between the game of skill and the game of chance.
“Some of those reasons, particularly from law enforcement, have been a refusal to ban or prevent people from playing these games, are largely driven by gambling,” Ranjan said.
He said skill development has taken a back seat in the past 18 months because skills cannot be learned just by listening to lectures and hands-on training is needed.
“I see a lot of virtue in using games for this purpose. There are a lot of companies working on these things.
“How do you learn skills by gamifying the whole context and helping candidates navigate these sessions in a user-friendly way? This is a major step forward in how professional training will be delivered in the future,” Ranjan said.
According to Indiatech CEO Rameesh Kailasam, several court rulings have given legitimacy to online gaming formats, including fantasy sports.
However, in some states like Telangana, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland, these online formats are not allowed if they involve money.
Ranjan said the state government is coming up with an online gambling policy that will be a model for others.
“We need to dig deeper to understand what the impetus is for regulatory roadblocks… We’ve been working on this for almost 7-8 months. We’re following this path very cautiously.
“We don’t want to rush something that can potentially be challenged in court or that can lead to some public misunderstanding and outcry,” Ranjan said.
He also said that Telangana is building one of the best infrastructure for gaming, animation, special effects and other technology companies called Image Tower which is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2023.
“It will be a matter of pride not only for Hyderabad and Telangana but also for the country,” Ranjan said.
Games 24X7 co-founder and CEO Bhavin Pandya said it would be helpful if the central government recognized certain skill games and legislated on them.
“We can also replicate some global patterns where you have to get a license to run the games under specific conditions,” Pandya said.