New Delhi: Children and adults have become victims of internet gaming and betting as a result of the pandemic. Despite the fact both the terms (online gaming and online betting) are utilised in different ways, the level of addiction is very comparable. Many adults who have lost their employment are susceptible to online betting. As a result of these situations, both adults and children have had poor outcomes.
“Online games or video games have fantasy characters, where you have a target or teams to play along. However, many online games such as cricket create a replica of the real or actual world and depending on the game in the actual world, people either lose or earn money, otherwise termed as ‘betting,’ as one needs to guess the game. It is something similar to offline betting. On these platforms, people put money on stake with a hope of earning a greater return.” Dr Yatan Balhara, Additional Professor of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, said.
Although India is the world’s fourth-largest online gaming market, the sector requires a stable regulatory and legal environment to allow it to develop swiftly and reach its full potential. The determination of whether a game is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’ has far-reaching legal implications for commercial enterprises. A game of chance gets a higher GST rate. Online games are either based on the ‘rake fee’ model, in which the gaming platform charges a rake fee to facilitate games, or on the ‘freemium’ model, in which the gameplay is free but additional features may require users to pay a monetary cost. As a result, a fair application of the Goods and Services Tax is critical to the industry’s survival.
Online gambling is a state subject, so many Indian states have either allowed or banned online gambling, which includes any act of risking money or otherwise on the unknown result of an event including a game of skill. States like Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have banned online gaming. In 2020, due to the complaints of suicides and addiction, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of money or stakes in online gaming.
“The laws, related to online betting, prohibit the individuals within that jurisdiction, but what about the people who are playing it on the platform that is not registered in the state? The state-specific rules and laws are not comprehensive, although it states the right rules and directions. All the states need to come together for an effective solution,” Dr Balhara said.
An addiction to online gaming can be measured by its level, which harms mental and physical health. Although online gaming may appear to be fun, interesting, and beneficial to social skills, excessive participation leads to severe behavioural problems, which can result in harmful or suicidal attempts.
Talking about the drastic results of online gaming among children, Dr Samanta Puspak Kumar Jena, the Professor of Applied Psychology at Delhi University, told this paper, “Internet gaming acts as a source of stimulation for children. However, when the successive amount of online gaming leads to addiction, affecting the mental and physical health of children, it must be considered. In such cases, the addiction needs to be treated by clinical psychologists and mental health professionals.”
Some clinical psychologists believe that parents need to be sensitized about the impacts of online gaming.