Gambling has been a dicey business since time immemorial. But the arrival of the pandemic has exacerbated the negative impact of online gambling. Due to boredom and lack of work many people in India and abroad have taken up online gambling to test their luck at quick money or just to feed their addiction.
The pandemic has advanced online gambling to a different level, with the availability of cheap data, a rise in digital transactions, increased use of smartphones, and an expansion in the supply and quality of games. Despite the country-wide ban on gambling, the thrilling activity continues illegally and underground in most states.
Real Horror Stories
Dr. Manoj Sharma, professor at NIMHANS Bengaluru’s SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) clinic, stated that dullness and lack of work spurred by the pandemic drove people to online gambling. Since gambling produces dopamine, people easily fall down the slippery slope to addiction.
Delhi-based psychiatrist Dr. Pankaj Kumar observed a 15-20% increase in the number of people seeking treatment for gambling addiction. He stated that for most beginners it starts as an entertaining pastime, and then slowly escalates to addiction. Gamblers are enticed by the deceiving notion that they can let go of gambling at any time they want.
In one case a Delhi-based cloth merchant took up gambling during the lockdown. It started harmlessly but eventually, he began selling stocks for a loss just to feed his gambling resources.
Financial pressures mounted so much that his children had to be withdrawn from their private school and admitted to a government one. Eventually, his family convinced him to seek psychiatric help, and three months of counseling pulled him out of the crisis.
A teenager went to violent lengths to extract money from his family in order to continue gambling. He started out playing games but eventually began borrowing, selling family valuables, and even accessing his father’s bank account.
The first time he was taken to the police, he promised that he would stop gambling. But then he resumed and even beat up his father when he was refused any more money. Finally, he was brought for psychiatric treatment.
In another case, a 31-year-old man in Tamil Nadu succumbed to his online gambling addiction. After he got a job in a tech company, he spent all his savings on online gambling and even withdrew money from his mother and brother.
One time when he was at home his family approached him about why he did not send them money for the past three years. Unable to come to terms with himself, the man committed suicide.
Read More: How Was Paytm Helping Online Casino/Sports Betting Payments In India; The Reason Cited For Its Ban From Play Store?
Legality Of Gambling
Although gambling is illegal in India, some online games have been assigned skill-based- like rummy, poker, and chess. Some states like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana have banned these games as well, citing mental health issues. Courts in other states like Kerala and Karnataka have overturned state bans.
Recently an ordinance has been sanctioned by Tamil Nadu governor R N Ravi which declares online gaming illegal in the state.
According to the ordinance, the Tamil Nadu State government will also set up an Online Gaming Authority to regulate online games, and local operators are obligated to acquire registration certificates to offer gaming services.
EGF (E-Gaming Federation) has demanded a central regulation that will ensure a win-win situation. CEO Sameer Barde said, “We understand that gaming is an immersive experience and players can go overboard but bans are not the answer. We are seeking a soft touch regulation that will help the legit industry grow and protect players’ interests too”.
The degree of chance or skill involved in remote games where players compete with AI participants cannot be determined independently of the relevant algorithm. Jay Satya, technology and gaming lawyer, said, “All games — whether skill or chance based — should be regulated and taxed so that there is compliance, otherwise the industry will go underground and continue illegally”.
Disclaimer: This article is fact-checked
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