New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sushil Kumar Modi has urged the Modi government to regulate online gaming and impose taxation on it as the “booming” sector is becoming a “major addiction”, especially among the youth.
“Online gaming is becoming a major addiction. I would like to highlight that this sector, like the crypto industry, certainly has a regulatory lacuna,” Modi said in the Rajya Sabha Friday during the Zero Hour.
“So I would urge the Government of India that a uniform tax on online gaming (be imposed). Secondly, I ask the government to make a comprehensive framework of regulation for online gaming,” added Modi, a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar.
“Otherwise, we will not be able to stop our youngsters from becoming online gaming addicts.”
Modi made the comments while raising the issue of “booming online gaming which has become a big problem for the youngsters in this country”.
“Crores and crores of youngsters have become addicted to this online gaming. Because it is online, it is very difficult to prevent kids from becoming addicted to online gaming. And now this online gaming has been converted into gambling or betting,” he said. “And now there is a controversy, is it a game of skill or is it a game of chance?”
Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu agreed that it is a “big menace”, and asked Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw to take note of Modi’s suggestions and consult the Ministry of Law on it.
Sushil Kumar Modi also presented some numbers to make his case about the growing “addiction” to online gaming in India.
“I would like to tell the House that during pre-Covid, weekly time spent on mobile gaming was two-and-a-half hours. An 11 per cent of total smartphone time was spent on gaming. And during lockdown it has increased from two-and-a-half hours to four hours,” he said, without citing the data source.
“And as of today more than 43 crore users/people are on online gaming. And by 2025, the projection will increase to 65.7 crore (sic). And the revenue earned was Rs 13,600 crore because of online gaming, which is likely to increase to Rs 29,000 crore in 2025,” he said.
The number of app downloads (India mobile game downloads) in the first quarter of 2020, pre-Covid, stood at 1.86 billion, which increased to 3 billion during the third quarter of 2020, he added.
The BJP leader said states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and many others had banned online gaming but it was struck down by the high courts.
“And games like Ludo King, which we all have played when we were young, now crores and crores people are playing Ludo King, Poker, Dream11 etc based on cards,” he said.
An earlier version of the report erroneously said the statement was made during Question Hour. Modi was actually speaking during Zero Hour. The error is regretted.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)