Bill on online gambling “adequately addresses” issues raised by Governor, says official

The Hindu
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Apprehensions, raised by Governor R.N. Ravi over the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, have been adequately addressed in the preamble of the legislation.

This is the response of an State government official to the issues flagged by Mr. Ravi while returning the Bill to the government recently. According to a summary of the issues, rummy is a game of skill; earning income through a person’s skill is guaranteed as a fundamental right under the Constitution and no State government can ban a game of skill.

Citing the findings of a report submitted by a five-member committee, which was headed by former judge of the Madras High Court Justice K. Chandru, the preamble says that in the case of online version of games, including online rummy, the algorithm for the random generators are known to the developers; hence, they are pseudo random generators. Such games can be played with bots (an autonomous program or character designed to interact with systems or users). No mechanism is available for auditing the centralised server architecture of the gaming systems and artificial intelligence can be used to manipulate the games and lure the players into continued indulgence.

Classifying the online game into two types, the report, according to the preamble, talks of one which has minimal or negligible randomness factor and another having random event or count generators which are pseudo random and are addictively designed. This is why, the recommendation is for regulating the former and banning the latter.

Pointing out that the issues of online gaming and gambling cannot be dealt with by the old binary of game of chance versus the game of skill and a new conceptual framework is needed, the preamble says it is “an established scientific” fact that true random outcome is not feasible in a software and any randomness will depend upon the specific algorithm written by the developer. The audit of the algorithm “makes it difficult to detect any hidden algorithm” designed to favour the game provider and “overlay of artificial intelligence in the online gaming can make the gaming scenario completely unfair” to the player/customer.

The legislation also says that due to the “inherent addictiveness” by design of the online games and the money being put in by the game players, the complete gaming scenario amounts to an “exploitative, addictive service”, causing not only health hazards but also a social and economic harm of “epidemic proportions”.

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