Lok Sabha discusses Indian Gaming and Esports' future

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Lok Sabha had discussed the Indian government's plans for esports and gaming on 4 February 2021. Here is all to know about it.

Sh. Jagdambika Pal, a Member of the Lok Sabha, had asked a few questions regarding the regulation of esports and gaming in India. After which, Sh. Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State For Youth Affairs and Sports, had spoken about it on behalf of the government on 04 February 2021.

Recognizing esports "will contribute to the destruction of clichés in the minds of many parents that computer games are pure evil."

The need of a governing body for Esports and Gaming

India yet does not have an official body that controls esports and gaming. Due to this reason, we have had shameful incidents like the 2018 Asian Games.

Esports in India is considered as entertainment and not a sport, the government is yet to recognize it as a sport. Esports athletes, organizers, and everyone involved end up paying a 30% entertainment tax because of this, whereas the sports tax in India is at 20%.

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It's high time that the government defines esports, and assigns a governing body.

The Indian Government acknowledges gaming and esports

According to AFK Gaming, 5 questions were asked from the government which has cleared many misconceptions. Esports has been on the rise in India, and the number of stakeholders has been increasing day by day. While many other countries including Sri Lanka and Russia have recognized esports and have introduced laws, India is yet to do so.

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However, esports has been gaining traction steadily in India, and finally it has reached the Lok Sabha. These five questions were asked in the parliament.

Whether the Government has any plan to introduce Gaming and e-Sports Policy in the country and if so, the details thereof

The Minister of State for Sports, Kiren Rijiju said that the government knows about the potential of esports in the country and also about its traction among the youth.
The government has also acknowledged the difference between esports and gambling/igaming/e-gaming. He said that esports was skill-based while the rest were luck-based.
A few Indian companies have been falsely advertising themselves as "esports platforms".

Whether the Government has any plans to bring the sports and gaming in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and if so, the details thereof

Currently, there are no plans to add esports to the concurrent list, sports have been on the state list, and probably esports will also be in the hands of the state governments.

Whether the Government has any estimates on the size/value of the gaming industry in India and if so, the details thereof

The government acknowledges that esports is a big industry, but it has not yet conducted official studies.

Whether the Government has any plans or taken any steps to regulate/curb illegal gaming, betting, and gambling in India, if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons therefor

The minister said that the government is aware of the difference between esports, and gambling. While the government has still not introduced policies for esports, several companies falsely advertising themselves as esports platforms were warned. He said that the government does not plan to unban gambling anytime soon.

Whether the Government has taken any steps or has any plan to introduce educational gaming and if so, the details thereof

The minister said that the government was aware of a few bodies like ESFI, EDAI, and EI but they are not official. He warned, "no Federations/Associations have been recognized by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports."

What will be the impact of recognition of esports and gaming in India?

The recognition of esports will benefit athletes as they will also start getting benefits of sports quota. This positive move will also introduce laws and regulations which would prevent different types of frauds. However, the biggest impact of recognizing esports as sports will be on society, which still perceives esports as a medium of leisure.