The small, mountainous state of Nagaland, located in Northeast India, has become the first to pass legislation on online skill games in the country, a landmark moment for gaming in world’s second most populous country.
The legislation is the first in Indian history to address wagering on games of skill, including poker and daily fantasy sports, both of which could have huge market potential in India.
The crux of the law is the verbiage making distinction between “wagering or betting on games of chance”, which is expressly prohibited, and games “where there is the preponderance of skill over chance”, which will be regulated.
Governor PB Acharya gave his assent to the legislation, named the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion of Online Games of Skill Bill 2015 on April 7. Once published in the Official Gazette, the Act will immediately come into force and the government will begin drafting regulations and licensing details.
The Bill, which is said to have little support from the people of Nagaland, was first proposed by Chief Minister TR Zeilang a little less than nine months ago. Skeptics are accusing the politicians of money-grabbing motives without fully considering any potential ramifications of passing the legislation.
Currently Assam and Odisha are the only states in India that include skill games under their criminal liability umbrella for gambling. Most real-money games operators argue that “judicial precedents and statistical evidence” are in favour of skill games being legal in India without concrete legislation being in place.