The draft of the Rajasthan Virtual Online Sports (Regulation) Bill 2022 in increasing coming under 'attack' from the industry with the Esports Federation of India joining top operators in highlighting the controversial manner in which it has been blueprinted. (More Sports News)
As reported by Outlook, the Rajasthan government, in its bid to regulate a rather chaotic online gaming industry, has formulated a set of guidelines that has angered most top operators offering various types of pay-to-play games.
On Saturday, the ESFI objected to the Rajasthan Virtual Online Sports (Regulation) Bill 2022 bringing esports in its ambit. Esports is now a medal event in the Asian Games.
Saying that the Bill is "detrimental to the growth of esports in India," the ESFI's Vinod Tiwari said: “It’s important to understand that not all games played electronically are esports. The outcome of any esports match is solely and purely dependent/based on the skills (physical and mental) and the performances of the esports athletes are just like cricket, badminton etc. It’s absolutely wrong to club esports (a sport) with fantasy gaming or anything other than sports."
"Esports is an all-inclusive sport, restricting and/or limiting and/or regulating it the way it’s been proposed in the draft bill will only be detrimental to the growth of our sport and development of the grassroots in the state of Rajasthan or any other Indian state which is planning any such bill on the similar lines," added Lokesh Suji of ESFI.
The ESFI is also drawing the attention of the Union sports ministry since esports, unlike a ludo or poker, is recognised as a pure 'skill' sport by the International Olympic Committee and Olympic Council of Asia.
MPL, a leading esports promoter and a partner of the Indian Olympic Association, has welcomed ESFI's response to the Rajasthan Bill.
"We too have requested the Rajasthan government alongside our colleagues in the industry to not de-hypenate any sector from the larger skill game sector and make piecemeal regulation. We believe clear regulations in line with judicial precedent will create a sustainable atmosphere for the growth of gaming," said Dibyojyoti Mainak of MPL.
The Rajasthan Virtual Online Sports (Regulation) Bill 2022 is being seen as partial towards fantasy sports and the proposed licensing system as completely lopsided.
"A licensing system which is cumbersome and with a hefty fee will discourage new entrants and might create a monopolistic industry. This would be detrimental to the growth of any digital industry, including gaming," observed Mainak.
In its response to the Bill, Winzo, one of India's leading operators and the official sponsors of Indian Premier League giants Kolkata Knight Riders, said: "...Such social games of skills have been played all over the country with judicial recognition for a much longer time and any consideration for 'safe-harbour' cannot exclude these verticals of the skill-gaming industry. Therefore, we submit that any government recognition or exemption contemplated should be granted uniformly to all games of skill and not only to fantasy sports and esports."
Winzo has also appealed to the Rajasthan government to extend the May 28 deadline so that all operators are able to study the draft and voice their opinion. It has also suggested that the government "consider meeting the stakeholders, either virtually or in person, to discuss the relevant issues."
The surreptitious nature of the industry and the lack of a united front are some of the biggest problems plaguing this booming industry that is increasingly coming under the Central government's scanner for the wrong reasons.