New Delhi: Political parties are mulling to include regulating online gaming in their party manifestos ahead of upcoming general elections. 

The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), an Industry body has given a proposal to the members of both the BJP and the Congress to include central regulation of online gaming in their respective manifestos.

According to the AIGF, the online gaming industry can generate substantial revenues to the exchequer, create jobs, ensure responsible gaming and also curb and eliminate illegal activities like match-fixing and money laundering if brought under formal regulation and taxed rationally. The online gaming includes all online game that involves real money like Poker, Rummy or Teen Patti.

Explaining about the request made by AIGF, CEO, Roland Landers said, "It is commendable that the two main political parties have looked at inclusiveness and suggestions from people across the country in their manifestos. We wanted to highlight this critical issue of regulation in the online gaming industry, that has long been ignored but is the need of the hour and hence have sent our suggestions to the respective committees highlighting the benefits that will accrue to all stakeholders." 

AIGF is an industry body that focuses on policy advocacy, research and forum for discussion among various stakeholders associated with the online gaming.

Online gaming is a state subject in India and each state has its own gaming acts. While most of these acts are archaic in nature, gaming businesses have gone digital and grown many folds over the years and hence a central regulatory framework for the online gaming industry is being demanded. 

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At present there are no clear cut gaming guidelines and rules to regulate the online gaming sector, licenses are issued by most states in accordance to the rules on ‘Games of Skill’ under the Public Gaming Act. In India, only two states currently allow gambling through their offline licences, Goa and Sikkim.

Earlier, Thiruvananthapuram MP and senior Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor had introduced a Private Member’s Bill, titled the Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill in the lower house of parliament on December 28, 2018. The Bill aimed to introduce an effective administration to maintain the integrity of sports in India by preventing and penalizing sports fraud and for regulation of online sports gaming.

Pushing for the legislation of sports betting, Landers of AIGF said that Poker, Rummy or any online fantasy league games, all are loosely based around the mechanism of betting. There is a stigma attached to these games in India, despite games like Rummy being declared skill based by the Supreme Court of India. 

Games like Rummy, Poker and Fantasy League are prevalent and growing in the Indian market. We are talking about skill based and chance based gaming which needs regulation in India. The numbers in this space are enormous and have threats associated with it. But the prime focus right now is to develop the Indian gaming industry in such a way that it is responsible, well regulated, objectively taxed and does best for everyone associated with it.