On Friday, the Madras High Court expressed concern that online gambling games were attracting unemployed youth and leading to addiction. It was suggested that the Tamil Nadu government should pass legislation to regulate online games like rummy, poker, and ludo.
This regulation would mean operators would need to be licensed and would include a comprehensive framework by a regulatory body to oversee online sports betting and curbs on illegal activities too.
Justice B Pugalendhi (pictured) cautioned that a youngster losing money on online games that are advertised on social media could easily turn to crime to feed their desire to play, with all the adverse effects that has on society.
The High Court was responding to a senior state police official who had argued regulation would encourage investment in the sector, lead to technological advancements, plus revenue and employment opportunities.
"Keeping all these aspects in mind the government should regulate and monitor such virtual games, like some states which had amended their prevailing gaming acts", the judge said.
The judge pointed at many state bans on lottery tickets and usury, which were designed to protect families and wider society. Online gaming should also have measures in place to protect people.
If the government was to proceed with regulation, it was told to put all stakeholders on notice to get their views before any legislation is introduced.
The CEO of the All India Gaming Federation, Roland Landers, welcomed a regulatory framework to provide "clarity to the sunrise online gaming industry with a view to encourage investments leading to technological advancements as well as generation of revenue and employment."
This call by a senior judge should be seen as a welcome development for the online gaming and gambling at a time many establishment figures have come out again against it. Dr S. Ramadoss and K Ramakrishna have both made public calls for online rummy and other sites and apps to be banned by central and state government in recent times.
The High Court also quashed a criminal case filed against a teacher for playing cards. The man had been charged under the Tamil Nadu Gambling Act.According to the police, he had played cards outside near a bush - that place cannot be termed as a 'common gaming house'.