nCORE Games Founder Vishal Gondal tweeted that he received multiple criminal and civil defamation notices accusing him of “belittling” online real-money gaming. Earlier this year, Gondal posted an article on Medianama talking about the current state of real money gaming. In it, he stated that “Real money gaming has to be treated as gambling” and emphasizes the need for regulation of these online applications, which has seemingly caused several legal notices to be issued against him.
Vishal Gondal’s Response to The Legal Notices
Gondal shared his article on Twitter and revealed that he received legal notices from citizens all across India who have taken offense to his article and tweets highlighting the issues around real money gaming. He stated, “I apprehend that multifarious proceedings may be filed against me in different parts of the country to cause harassment, which I’m prepared to defend if so required.”
Some of the legal notices have demanded apologies on social media and have also sought damages up to INR 25,00,000 ($34,500 USD). Others have also asked Gondal to bear the cost of the legal notices sent to him.
He claimed that these were “frivolous and baseless notices” and that he would respond to them. He also added that he has “full faith” in India’s courts. Gondal urged the gaming community, government, media, and civil society members to help bring strict government regulation into the subject as “innocent kids/youths are losing their lives, money & future.”
Additionally, Gondal also urged gamers to “come together to make Indian eSports the best” and make India “the global leader in eSports.”
The Legal Status of Real Money Gaming
Gondal revealed in his article that the current position on online gaming in India is based on The Public Gambling Act, 1867, which prohibits gambling, but any games of mere skill are allowed. It is unknown if the law extends to online platforms. He questioned the legality of real money gaming and received legal notices from multiple parties.
However, one of the notices sent to Gondal underlines that the Supreme Court specifically held in 1996 that “if the game involves a substantial degree or ‘preponderance of skill’, even though such a game shall have money as its sole consideration, it shall not amount to gambling as the outcome of the same is not left completely up to chance.”
The article by Gondal talked about how games like roulette, blackjack, poker, bingo, sports betting, fantasy sports betting, rummy, and lotteries are tied to state legislation. Still, according to him, “these measures have not been elaborate enough to ensure online gambling is run ethically and legally.”.
He revealed that the Law Commission had recommended that sports betting and gambling be legalized and heavily regulated. In November 2018, Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, took the recommendations and proposed a private members’ bill, the Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018, to prevent sports fraud and regulate online sports betting. The bill proposed forming a commission to oversee all online gaming websites’ functions to track any form of illegal activities.
Earlier this month, Gondal had also stated that Teen Patti, Rummy, Poker, and Fantasy Sports were not esports and urged the Prime Minister to take action and “prevent youngsters falling prey to them.”
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