Exclusive: The Sikkim government has finally clarified all aspects relating to the online gaming licenses that it started issuing since 2009.
An officer associated with Director of Sikkim Lotteries, Basanti Rais office confirmed that a total of nine Letter of Intents (LOIs) have been issued by the Sikkim government while only four of these nine LOI holders have procured provisional license required for setting up the necessary infrastructure.
The lottery department confirmed that none of the provisional license holders have received the full license required to start the online gaming website as they have not fulfilled the technical standard requirements. The department added that full license will be issued as and when the operators fulfill the technical requirements and other conditions laid down in the terms of the provisional license.
The lottery department denied that the license holders were facing legal difficulties in commencing operations and said that the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act 2008, other rules and issue of licenses was duly done with the consent of the Central government.
On being asked whether the recently notified Information Technology (Due diligence observed by Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 [IT Rules 2011] would affect the licenses as reported by me earlier, the officer said that the online gaming licenses were issued as gambling was a state subject under the Indian Constitution and thus the Sikkim government was competent to issue the licenses.
The officer however added that since subsequent to the issue of the licenses, doubts have been raised as regards to the legality of the licenses, the Sikkim government will correspond with the Central government to resolve the issue and seek clarifications.
It may be noted that the LOI contains clauses which absolve the Sikkim government of any liability if any state government or the Central government passes any law which prohibits or criminalises online gaming, thus highlighting the ambiguity of the legality online gaming in India.
Read my earlier exclusive posts on Sikkim online gaming licenses: