This is further to the recent statement made by the Additional Advocate General (AAG) Mr. M. Sricharan Rangarajan informing the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that the State Government was actively considering regulating the online skill gaming sector. While The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) welcomes this progressive initiative by the government, we want to ensure that any new regulation is not prohibitive and builds in protection for consumers and operations of legitimate operators.

The government is worried about the recent suicide reports related to online gaming. These recent events are of grave concern to TORF and its members. Over the last two years, TORF members have taken extraordinary and voluntary steps to self-regulate and give players the tools to play responsibly.

Key areas include

o   KYC verification

o   Minimum Age

o   Player Protection requirements,

o   Mandatory Responsible Playing features like setting daily monthly limits, self-exclusion etc.

o   Advertising guidelines,

o   No BOTS on sites

o   SSL level encryption

and other such requirements to ensure player experience is Safe , Fair and enables responsible gaming.

We strongly feel that the Government should regulate this sector to ensure only legitimate, legal operators who follow strict protocols are allowed to operate and a clear distinction drawn from those who try and operate above the law. Tens of thousands of players from Tamil Nadu enjoy playing online rummy safely and responsibly. Effective regulation will let the vast majority of the players who play responsibly continue to enjoy the game, protect the players that are vulnerable, and lead to substantial additional revenues for the government.

Jurisdictions around the world that have chosen prohibitive measures over regulation have had to deal with a large underground economy. A case in point is the recent INR 1,000 crore gambling scam in Telangana which surfaced after it chose to ban skill gaming in 2017. In the absence of regulation, and in case of any prohibitive action that doesn’t draw a clear line between legitimate skill gaming and illegitimate operators, the government would unintentionally exacerbate the problem it is trying to solve by encouraging uncontrolled illegal online gaming.

The Government of Tamil Nadu should set up a committee to review, discuss and propose a regulatory framework for games of skill similar to Nagaland and Sikkim. A discussion for a proposal to regulate this industry can address many concerns including following key points:

1.              Setting time and monetary limits for players on a daily/weekly/monthly basis;

2.              Stronger KYC checks & social profiling of users to ensure that players are financially stable adults

3.              Strict advertising standards to promote gaming as entertainment and not a way to earn money

4.              An annual license fee and a player support contribution to help vulnerable players

TORF is committed to provide its full support to the government in creating a safe and responsible gaming industry. We have already made an official representation to the Honourable Chief Mister to kindly consider regulating the sector as a win -win solution.

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