Game: Champions of Change

The year 2022 will be the year that puts India back on track to realize the dream of Rs 1 trillion digital economy by 2025. In the first 40 days of the year, 8 companies became unicorns, with an average of one unicorn every 5 days. . The industry, fueled by massive investment and youth innovation in an economy ripe for technology-driven growth and development, was only held back by regulatory hurdles and the lack of uniformity in the applicability of laws. In a landmark judgment, the Karnataka High Court remedied both issues by striking down the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, which was used to ban online gambling, ruling it ultra vires over the Indian Constitution. The intent is clear – this new India will not be held back by regressive regulations driven either by misinformation or personal opinions driven only by good intentions. The path of progress will be charted based on research and policies that put people and the nation’s interest first.

The divisional bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit issued a writ of mandamus, restraining the respondents from interfering with online gambling businesses and related activities. Previously, the High Courts of Kerala and Madras also struck down similar laws banning online gambling in their respective states. Although these bans should never have been implemented in the first place, these orders represent a progressive and forward-looking approach to dealing with innovation in the face of apprehensions and skepticism.

The ban on online gambling involving monetary transactions was a major setback for the emerging industry which was directly contributing to the country’s economic growth and was one of the few industries to continue generating job opportunities during the pandemic. . The state had passed and amended the Public Gambling Act (PGA), an archaic law of 1867, and applied it to a 21st century innovation while ignoring the intervention of the Honorable Supreme Court on the differentiation between “games of skill” and “games of skill”. luck’. In that light, it was a welcome decision.

Karnataka has long been known as the startup capital of India, with over 4500 startups. However, the blanket ban created an atmosphere of doubt which led to NCR dethroning Karnataka as the new startup capital with over 5000 startups. It is important to understand the journey of a startup to fully understand the impact that such bans can have on the growth and even the longevity of these companies. Startups are heavily backed by investors and are often launched by founders. General prohibitions may directly or indirectly affect their business results. This in turn creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, even for those not directly affected. The High Court ruling is expected to help startups in Karnataka breathe a collective sigh of relief and rebuild some of the lost trust in the state’s political ecosystem. The case had also sparked interest from global space investors.

Online games have been the fastest growing segment of the media and entertainment sector during the pandemic, marking an 18% growth in 2020. According to the latest report from Redseer, online games could represent a market of UD$7 billion in India by 2026. This is despite general prohibitions, negative perceptions emanating from historic laws; imagine the growth if every stakeholder came together to support the growth of this burgeoning industry. We are already looking at 2,000 new jobs that will be created to fuel and fuel this growth. With the necessary support from policymakers and regulators, that number could be even higher. Also, with the growing interest in games and game development, we might have Indian professional gamers competing globally and similar to the computer boom of the 90s and early 2000s, supply Indian talent to other countries to meet the growing need for game developers, coders, data scientists/engineers and artists.

The gaming industry is expected to have around 700 million users by 2026, which means it affects a large majority of internet users in India. Banning games that are perfectly legal cannot be a solution to any problem; it would only deprive some users from enjoying games that others in the country can freely consume and enjoy and further increase legal costs for startup startups. State governments should work with the gaming industry to find the best solutions that not only ensure player safety, but also promote responsible and ethical gaming.

Pushback or distrust of technology and innovation is nothing new. People have been opposed or at least cynical about the internet, cell phones and social media in the past. The online gambling industry finds itself in a similar position, but with high user interest and rapid adoption across the country, in addition to support from the legal system, the focus will eventually turn to the good that it can cause rather than a few preventable cases. which are often used to push through backward regulation.

Gaming companies, especially local startups, are founded by some of the best minds from our top tier institutions who have decided to give up high-paying jobs overseas to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in India, while responding to the Prime Minister’s call for “youth innovation”. ” & a “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”. The recent announcement of the intention to set up an AVGC working group in the budget is a step in the right direction. It is the duty of the country to further support these brilliant men and women through a predictable policy and regulatory environment to realize their dreams of placing India at the forefront of technological innovation. This requires a central, pervasive, and progressive policy framework that can be uniformly adopted by all states through a light regulatory framework that encourages innovation.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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