Online Gaming in India

The gaming scene in India, like the rest of the world, has irrevocably been shaken up with the evolution of digital and online gaming. While PC and Console gaming still remain wildly popular, the number of users indulging in online gaming is on a steady rise. In India, the gaming sector is regulated by The Public Gaming Act, 1857. In a study on Online Gaming in India conducted by KPMG India and Google in 2017, the online gaming market in India stands at 290 Million USD and is expected to grow to 1 Billion USD by 2021. There is more diversity among Indian Gamers and in comparison to the global market and it is ever increasing.

The Indian Constitution has granted the individual State Governments the right to enact legislation to govern gambling. But what exactly is the difference between gaming and gambling as provided by the act.

Game vs Gamble

The Supreme Court in Dr. K. R. Lakshmanan vs State of Tamil Nadu and Anr. held that,

“Gambling in a nut-shell is payment of a price for a chance to win a prize. Games may be of chance, or of skill or of skill and chance combined. A game of chance is determined entirely or in part by lot or mere luck. The throw of the dice, the turning of the wheel, the shuffling of the cards, are all modes of chance. In these games the result is wholly uncertain and doubtful. No human mind knows or can know what it will be until the dice is thrown, the wheel stops its revolution or the dealer has dealt with the cards. A game of skill, on the other hand – although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated  is one in which success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player. Golf, chess and even Rummy are considered to be games of skill. The courts have reasoned that there are few games, if any, which consist purely of chance or skill, and as such a game of chance is one in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill, and a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. It is the dominant element – “skill” or “chance” – which determines the character of the game.”

Nagaland, Sikkim, Assam are the only states in India that have their own gaming and gambling rules. The Sikkim rules state that the games have to be safe, secure and fair. In Nagaland, the state issues licenses for games of skill. But what is the need for such regulations?

Recent Developments

There have been a few negative developments in the online gaming scene recently. For instance, the Blue Whale Challenge is a ‘game’ that comprises 50 tasks of increasing difficulty. The penultimate challenge presented to the user is to commit suicide as the ‘final task’ with a promise to provide a thrilling  started in Russia four years ago on a social networking site called VKontakte. It had already claimed over 130 lives in Russia with the first suicide taking place in 2015.What is worrying is that despite the common knowledge that the deadly game started and spread on VKontakte, which is a hugely popular site in Russia, no checks were brought in place to contain the network. One can easily create a VKontakte account . And once you log in, and search for ‘#bluewhale’, you come across psychotic, extremely depressing messages of young people desperately wanting to play the game and end their lives. Blue Whale wasn’t even an actual game but a social media phenomenon that posed as a ‘game’ to fool depressed youngsters. The challenge could be accessed through various platforms

In India, up to 4 people had already committed suicide when the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had stated that the Gujarat State Government would bring an ordinance if need be to ban the game in Gujarat.

In another instance, The Momo Challenge was yet another ‘game’ that encouraged children to take their own lives. It purportedly enticed children to perform a series of harmful task such as violence, self-harm and even suicide. But the social media hoax turned out to be a fake one.

The Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018

In light of such events, instead of spending time bringing about an ordinance to ban such games, a legislation that protects online gamers from such predators is the need of the hour. Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill, namely, the Sports (Online Gaming & Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha on 28 December 2018. The first objective of this bill is to introduce an offence of ‘Sport Fraud’ in order to prevent unethical gambling that may lead to match fixing or manipulation of international sport events and the second objective being the creation of a national regulatory and licensing framework and the creation of an Online Sports Gaming Commission and licensing framework to oversee online sports gaming which will put forward numerous safety guidelines to be followed.

Even though the primary aim of this bill is to restrict match-fixing, this can also serve as an umbrella framework to prevent destructive games like The Blue Whale Game from festering. The Gaming Commission can ensure that all prerogatives are met by the online game developers.

Online Gaming may be difficult to pin down to follow a regulatory framework. Many local developers may find it easy to skirt around an issue and find loopholes but it may still be a start.

There are many benefits to gaming. They help increase communication, leadership, coordination but these are glossed over in the gaming world if the negative aspects are in the limelight. Xbox has parental controls that lets you lock away content you don’t think is accuratefor children. Similarly, a strict legislation for online gaming will be significant.

About the Author: Kirti Menon, Intern at Khurana and Khurana Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at


[1] The Sports (Online Gmaing and Prevention of fraud Bill) –

[2] Nagaland Gaming Rules –

[3] Gujarat Government bans the Blue Whale Challenge –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × 1 =


  • June 2021
  • May 2021
  • April 2021
  • March 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • July 2020
  • June 2020
  • May 2020
  • April 2020
  • March 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • July 2019
  • June 2019
  • May 2019
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • October 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010