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Aiming to set a regulatory mechanism for the Indian online gaming sector, which is mostly unorganised, member of parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor has introduced a private member’s bill regarding the issue in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. In the last two years, the Indian online gaming sector has seen several new players.

Reportedly, Tharoor has said that while the industry needs to practice self-regulatory practices, a statutory framework with government monitoring to safeguard that service providers follow license conditions, is also required. He also said that there is a need to track suspicious betting patterns as well as to maintain control over the money flow, so that generation of black money can be deterred. He stated the need of a regulatory body, similar to the one in his proposition, in his Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill.

“The main purpose of my bill is to preserve the integrity of sports. The bill is primarily divided into two parts for this purpose. One part recognises the offence of sports fraud and prescribes a special procedure to deal with it. The other part acknowledges the fact that the increasing commercial nature of sports increases financial incentives for vested interests to manipulate sporting events, therefore it provides for the regulation of online sports betting activities,” Tharoor told ET.

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In accordance with data from the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), India contains 120 million gamers, a number that has seen a 30% spike in the last three years. According to the 276th report of the Law Commission of India, the current market for online gaming measures up to USD 360 million, and is projected to increase to USD 1 billion by 2021.

The bill, backed by Tharoor, aims to standardize online sports gaming, which includes games that involve predicting results of a sporting event and betting on the result, in part or in total, with the help of a telecommunication device. Since fantasy gaming is related to actual sporting events, it will also be included within the sphere of this bill.

Roland Landers, CEO of the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), told ET, “There is an urgent need to have government intervention in order to streamline the industry, preserve integrity of sports and eliminate sports fraud…AIGF is committed to dealing with issues pertaining to online gaming industry.”

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