2 Minutes Read
Earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu government, keen to ban all forms of online gaming, sought public and stakeholder opinion on the issue and the alleged link between online games and suicides in the state. The public had until August 12 to make their submissions in writing or in person, and the government reportedly received almost 10,000 emails on the issue.
Out of the numerous submissions made to the government, Dr. Sandip H Shah, a leading psychiatrist based out of Godhra in Gujarat, shared his research, stating the state government cannot directly correlate suicide with online gaming. The research has also called for the Tamil Nadu government to form a more rational regulation of the online gaming industry.
As a professor of Psychiatry and Dean of the Government Medical College in Panchmahals, Godhra, Shri Guru Govind University, Dr. Shah recently concluded independent research on “Suicide and Online Gaming.” According to his study, several complex factors drive individuals to suicide, and online gaming cannot be identified as the only factor. The study was peer-reviewed by the Medical Superintendent for Mental Health in Ahmedabad, Dr. Ajay Chauhan.
The research concludes – “There isn’t sufficient data available both before and after online gaming was legalized to correlate suicide with online gaming.”
The key points indicated in Dr. Shah’s research are:
> Several complex factors are responsible for suicides, and online gaming cannot be singularly isolated as the chief reason
> There is a lack of data to substantiate claims that suicide was caused by online gaming
> Further studies on medical and scientific grounds need to be made
> Poorly executed regulations have long-term after effects
> Online gaming is solely based on the user’s skills and knowledge, encouraging a healthy and competitive environment and strengthening the players’ cognitive abilities.
Response to Govt’s Call for Public Opinion on Gaming Ban
The Tamil Nadu government has reportedly received over 10,000 emails on the issue of banning online games. Local media reported that an overwhelming majority of these responses called for a ban on the games for their effect on families. According to DT Next, the government was planning to impose restrictions on the number of hours players can spend on these sites each day or week.
The report quoted a senior government official, “Out of the more than 10,000 emails sent by the public, including politicians, parents, and teachers, more than 99 percent are in favor of a blanket ban on online gaming and gambling sites. They believe these sites are a menace to society, as they are taking away lives and pushing families under debt.”
He added, “The government is planning to introduce a restriction on timing, like allowing a person to play only for one hour per day or three hours a week, etc.”
The official also divulged that the government plans to tread carefully on the issue of online gaming, given the obstacles many states are witnessing in the form of legal challenges to the bans of such games.
Tamil Nadu`s Online Gaming Ban Saga
The Tamil Nadu government has never been a proponent of online gaming. The state had promulgated and enforced an ordinance banning all forms of real money games, but the Madras High court quashed the state government’s online gaming ban last August. The government subsequently appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court, which is still pending.
Political and public pressure over the issue has been mounting in the wake of the state reporting many suicide cases in recent months due to people reportedly losing money in games like online rummy. Bearing the public opinion in mind, the government set up a committee to bring in a new ordinance on online rummy in June.
The Justice K Chandru-headed committee submitted its report on June 27. The committee towed the government line, recommending a complete ban on all online games.
Gaming bodies like the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) have appealed to the Tamil Nadu governor not to pass the proposed ordinance and called for regulation rather than a blanket ban.
While the state is yet to come out with a final verdict after processing the inputs it has received from various stakeholders, Dr. Sandip H Shah’s study comes as a shot in the arm to support the argument that online gaming is not the all-pervasive evil it is being made out to be.
A regulated and licensed gaming regime in the state will not only keep unlicensed and illegal gaming operators at bay, but it will also bring in transparency and fair play, encouraging the spirit of sports, and discouraging suicides in the long run.