On July 23, T.R. Zeliang, Chief Minister on Nagaland introduced “Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill” Bill 2015 in the assembly. The skill games like poker and rummy were supposed to be the part of the bill, hence getting fully legalized for the first time in any state in India. The bill was supposed to be discussed and passed on July 24 but, it is believed to be deferred to an undisclosed date now.
The bill was heartily welcomed by the skill games communities across the country as it was supposed to bolster the legalization of such games. On July 23, the Chief Minister articulated the objective behind tabling this bill – to regulate and promote the conduct of online “Games of Skill” under issue of license by the Government of Nagaland.
Following is the extract of the bill and report and published by Morung Express:According to the statement (of the Bill), “Gambling means and include wagering or betting on games of chance but does not include betting on wagering on games of skill.”“Games of skill” shall include all such games where there is preponderance of skill over chance, including where the skill relates to strategizing the manner of placing wagers or placing bets or where the skill lies in team selection or selection of virtual stock based on analyses or where the skill relates to the manner in which the moves are made, whether deployment of physical or mental skill and acumen.In the statement of objects and reasons, Chief Minister stated the object of the Bill is to give effect to the provisions of the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill 2015” in order to regulate and promote the conduct of online “Games of Skill” under issue of license by the Government of Nagaland.The statement stated that the sector of online games of skill is already well developed and established in India and other parts of the world. However, it is yet to be regulated in the country under a formal legal framework by any state of union territory, although there is no law that presently bars the conduct of online games of skill. The law as established in this country by rulings of various courts, including the Apex Court, clearly distinguish “Games of Skill” to be not gambling, and playing “Games of Skill” with or without stake to be a genuine business venture and not amounting to gambling since winning such games depend more on skill than chance.“The Bill seeks to regulate and promote the conduct of online “Games of skill” with the primary objective of earning revenue for the state government by way of licensing fees and royalty,” the Chief Minister stated.
Sikkim was the first state to initiate the legalization of online gaming (skill-based) in India in October 2014. Sikkim awarded license to M/s. Future Gaming Solutions Private Limited first and then to Maarm International and Essel Group in April 2015. However, the state government put all three licenses on hold last month stating some necessary amendments.
The online poker community and businesses in India are quite hopeful that these two states will lead the country towards the legalization of online skill games. Stay Tuned to OPN India for further updates on this subject.