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The role that legislation has to play in curbing gambling addiction

By The Assam Tribune
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Regulation around gambling in India is complex. Legal loopholes have been created by the ambiguity of the definitions of games of skill and games of chance and the fact that the relevant laws were created long before many current forms of gaming were created. This includes online betting and wagering on fantasy sports.

One of the biggest downsides of the lack of relevant regulation is that very little safeguards can be put in place to protect those vulnerable to gambling addiction.

Even though all forms of gambling are illegal in India, fantasy gaming falls into a grey area. Several states have tried to outlaw fantasy gaming, but all attempts to date have been unsuccessful, with several High Courts ruling fantasy gaming a game of skill.

Gambling addiction in fantasy sports

Fantasy sports apps are believed to be pushing a surge to gambling addictionand the only real way to curb this problem gambling is regulation. According to respected health institutes such as Bengaluru's Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) and Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) addiction to technology isn't given enough acknowledgement as a serious problem.

The lack of regulation means that gambling platforms aren't held accountable and hold very little responsibility when it comes to dealing with problem gambling.

The leading provider of fantasy games in India, Dream11, created a self-regulatory body, the Federation of Indian Sports (FIFS). FIFS have stated that regulation will force gaming companies to implement Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines. KYC requires companies to verify a person's identity. This protects players from fraud and ensures that all players are of a legal gambling age. It also ensures that customers are financially solvent.

There are several more ways that opting for the legality of fantasy sports and online gaming in India is the better way forward than an outright ban. Regulation should require licensed gaming sites to identify risky behaviour and set protections in place. Several tools can be implemented to stop players from problematic behaviour.

A possible legal requirement could be to implement the option of self-exclusion, it should be easy to register to exclude yourself from marketing communications and make it impossible to make any deposits to your betting account. Players should also be able to set deposit and time limits on their gaming account.

According to an ENV Media study on gambling regulation, the whole industry needs to be properly regulated, and both local and off-shore gaming sites should be required to hold stringent licences. Licences should ideally have a strict set of guidelines with players' safety at the core. Only online betting providers that prove that they have met all these guidelines should be able to operate in India. This will also make it easier to penalise any gaming companies that are not licensed.

Expanding this regulation to the greater gambling industry

The gaming industry as a whole has claimed a fair amount of buzz at a government level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have both discussed the potential of the industry.

And it's a big industry, with the potential to generate over $2 billion by 2023. The industry includes multiple products including online casinos, betting on horseracing, sports betting and esports, among others.

Away from the actual playing side of things, there's even a sizeable industry within the greater gaming market, offering content on everything from casino slot reviews to guides on playing fantasy sports and cricket betting tips.

Any regulation placed on wagering on fantasy sports would be transferable to online gambling as a whole. By implementing updated and relevant laws, all gambling companies will be mandated by law to follow responsible gambling policies.

On top of curbing gambling addiction, applying regulations to the whole market will help protect players from financial losses and fraudulent providers.

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Regulation around gambling in India is complex. Legal loopholes have been created by the ambiguity of the definitions of games of skill and games of chance and the fact that the relevant laws were created long before many current forms of gaming were created. This includes online betting and wagering on fantasy sports.

One of the biggest downsides of the lack of relevant regulation is that very little safeguards can be put in place to protect those vulnerable to gambling addiction.

Even though all forms of gambling are illegal in India, fantasy gaming falls into a grey area. Several states have tried to outlaw fantasy gaming, but all attempts to date have been unsuccessful, with several High Courts ruling fantasy gaming a game of skill.

Gambling addiction in fantasy sports

Fantasy sports apps are believed to be pushing a surge to gambling addictionand the only real way to curb this problem gambling is regulation. According to respected health institutes such as Bengaluru's Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) and Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) addiction to technology isn't given enough acknowledgement as a serious problem.

The lack of regulation means that gambling platforms aren't held accountable and hold very little responsibility when it comes to dealing with problem gambling.

The leading provider of fantasy games in India, Dream11, created a self-regulatory body, the Federation of Indian Sports (FIFS). FIFS have stated that regulation will force gaming companies to implement Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines. KYC requires companies to verify a person's identity. This protects players from fraud and ensures that all players are of a legal gambling age. It also ensures that customers are financially solvent.

There are several more ways that opting for the legality of fantasy sports and online gaming in India is the better way forward than an outright ban. Regulation should require licensed gaming sites to identify risky behaviour and set protections in place. Several tools can be implemented to stop players from problematic behaviour.

A possible legal requirement could be to implement the option of self-exclusion, it should be easy to register to exclude yourself from marketing communications and make it impossible to make any deposits to your betting account. Players should also be able to set deposit and time limits on their gaming account.

According to an ENV Media study on gambling regulation, the whole industry needs to be properly regulated, and both local and off-shore gaming sites should be required to hold stringent licences. Licences should ideally have a strict set of guidelines with players' safety at the core. Only online betting providers that prove that they have met all these guidelines should be able to operate in India. This will also make it easier to penalise any gaming companies that are not licensed.

Expanding this regulation to the greater gambling industry

The gaming industry as a whole has claimed a fair amount of buzz at a government level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have both discussed the potential of the industry.

And it's a big industry, with the potential to generate over $2 billion by 2023. The industry includes multiple products including online casinos, betting on horseracing, sports betting and esports, among others.

Away from the actual playing side of things, there's even a sizeable industry within the greater gaming market, offering content on everything from casino slot reviews to guides on playing fantasy sports and cricket betting tips.

Any regulation placed on wagering on fantasy sports would be transferable to online gambling as a whole. By implementing updated and relevant laws, all gambling companies will be mandated by law to follow responsible gambling policies.

On top of curbing gambling addiction, applying regulations to the whole market will help protect players from financial losses and fraudulent providers.

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