The Esports Players Welfare Association (EPWA) has urged the Tamil Nadu government to recognize skill games as a separate sport rather than lumping them in with gambling on behalf of thousands of Indian esports competitors and skill players, according to a report by Indo-Asian News Service (IANS). Also lending their support are two Indian chess phenoms. The organization requested that professional, amateur, and recreational online skill gamers be protected from the reach of any state-related gambling or gaming laws in their representation to the Tamil Nadu government.

This has occurred in the midst of a debate over rummy and other skill games that have erupted in Tamil Nadu. Under the leadership of Justice (Retd.) K. Chandru, a committee was established by the Tamil Nadu government to provide recommendations on new online gaming regulations. The state government is actively reviewing the committee’s report.

Additionally, the government has requested comments on the potential litigation on online games from a variety of stakeholders, including members of the general public, parents, teachers, gamers, social activists, and gaming service providers.

Shivani Jha, director, of EPWA said, “Multiple legislations and putting skill-based games in the same bucket as gambling is leading to the criminalization of skill-based players. While India is participating in international tournaments and developers are making new games, it is imperative for the state to regulate online skill-based gaming. Moreover, courts have repeatedly pronounced judgments stating the state government can only make laws on online gambling and not gaming, this ends up putting players at risk and equating them with gamblers and criminals.”

A group of esports competitors and skill gamers recently met with Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, as part of a special meeting organized by Shivani Jha. India is home to about 400 million online gamers and about 150,000 professional and semi-professional esports athletes. The Indian DOTA 2 team took home the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Esports Championships 2022, which were held in Birmingham.

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