After the ban on PUBG Mobile and other Chinese apps in September, now the Andhra Pradesh government is targeting websites in the states ‘owing to the dangers posed by online gambling’. According to a report by NDTV’s Gadgets 360, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has asked Union Minister RS Prasad to block 132 websites in the state including EA.com, MiniClip.com, and Zapak.com. CM Reddy argues that online gambling should also be banned as it leads "to youth getting involved in vices like gambling and betting from the comfort of their homes, through their mobile phones and computers." Several sites on the list have nothing to do with online gambling including EA.com. Electronic Arts (EA) is one of the most well-known game developers in the world, known for games like FIFA, NHL, the Sims series and are publishers for Apex Legends.
The letter also states that while gambling or betting in the usual form can be easily identified, "online gambling and betting remains elusive." While the list includes a number of online betting sites and "fantasy sports" platforms including MPL (Mobile Premier League) and Paytm First Games (which was removed from Google Play Store and restored 2 weeks later), it leaves out others that are "real money gaming" apps which feature games like Rummy and Poker. The inclusion of various non-gambling gaming websites like Zapak, MiniClip, and AddictingGames is troubling. These are all well-established flash games sites, which offer free games with no room for ‘gambling’.
The Debate Around Loot Boxes
While sites like Zapak and MiniClip may not offer loot boxes, EA games do. There is an ongoing debate in the video games world over whether loot boxes should be classified as gambling. Experts are divided over whether loot boxes can be linked to gambling. However, politicians in the UK have published a report on the harms of gambling, which recommended that "loot boxes" in video games be immediately reclassified by the government to fall under the remit of the 2005 Gambling Act.