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Business News/ Technology / News/  Betting through eGaming using VPNs remains a challenge in restricted states: Expert
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Betting through eGaming using VPNs remains a challenge in restricted states: Expert

Chance-based games still remain banned in many states, including Sikkim, Assam, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

Games like poker and rummy are generally classified as games of skill, said, Anumbhab Sarkar, Managing Partner at Triumvir Law (Bloomberg)Premium
Games like poker and rummy are generally classified as games of skill, said, Anumbhab Sarkar, Managing Partner at Triumvir Law (Bloomberg)

In 2017, Telangana enacted a ban on online gambling and betting. Three years later, Andhra Pradesh followed suit, and the following year, Tamil Nadu amended its laws to ban online gaming. However, gamers have continued to bet on these games through different channels, as Anubhab Sarkar, Managing Partner at Triumvir Law, told LiveMint.

In a recent development, the Madras High Court partially lifted the ban on online gaming implemented by the Telangana Government. However, chance-based games still remain banned in many states, including Sikkim, Assam, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Under the Indian Constitution, the State Government holds the authority to regulate 'betting and gambling'. 

LiveMint spoke with Sarkar to get more clarity on eGaming and confusion around its regulation.

Edited excerpts:

Is there a blanket ban on all sorts of games in the states that have banned betting through gaming?

Answer: The ban on online gaming does not necessarily constitute a universal or blanket ban on all games in states that have restricted betting through gaming. Games of skill, like poker and rummy, may still be permissible, while chance-based games, which qualify as gambling, face restrictions. The legal landscape regarding online gaming is dynamic, subject to changes influenced by court decisions and legislative amendments, reflecting the evolving nature of the industry and its regulatory framework.

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What are permissible games?

Answer: The nature of permissible games in the context of online gaming regulations in India often hinges on the distinction between games of skill and games of chance. Games like poker and rummy are generally classified as games of skill, where the outcome is influenced by the player’s knowledge, strategy, and skill. These games are often considered permissible even in states with restrictions on online gaming. However, the ban on chance-based games, like Teen Patti or Blackjack, remains in effect in states such as Sikkim, Assam, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

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Is the ban on eGaming and Gambling effective in the states that banned it?

Answer: The effectiveness of the ban on chance-based games varies across states, presenting a complex challenge for authorities. Despite legal restrictions, gaming enthusiasts are employing innovative methods to continue their activities. The use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent geolocation restrictions and the involvement of residents from states where the apps are not banned highlight the difficulties in enforcing these bans. The dynamic nature of technology and the adaptability of gamers contribute to the ongoing challenge for authorities in effectively implementing and sustaining such bans. Gamers are also utilizing popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram to create groups dedicated to betting activities. These groups, ranging from small circles of friends and family to larger communities exceeding 10,000 members, serve as clandestine spaces for placing bets on various games.

How are gamers betting through eGmaing in restricted states?

What adds a layer of complexity to these activities is the utilization of UPI channels and neo-banking channels for facilitating bets. Participants in these betting groups are often instructed to use UPI, a widely adopted digital payment system in India, for the seamless transfer of funds related to their bets. The integration of neo-banking channels further complicates the enforcement of bans, as these channels provide alternative financial routes for gamers to engage in betting activities discreetly.

The accessibility of such platforms, and the dynamic nature of technology and the adaptability of gamers contribute to the ongoing challenge for authorities in effectively implementing and sustaining such bans.

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Published: 16 Nov 2023, 04:48 PM IST
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