The report of the Justice K. Chandru Committee, which has recommended a ban on all online card games, has highlighted how gambling addiction could impact human lives — at the individual, family and societal levels.
The report, which was submitted recently to the Tamil Nadu government, said the relationship between gambling and suicide was well-established. At the individual level, gambling addiction often led to serious effects, including loss of jobs, failed relationship and a severe debt. It could cause mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, mood disorders and self-harming tendencies, it said.
An informed source, who had access to the 72-page report, told TheHindu that the report pointed to evidence of an association between gambling problems and family violence. As family members attempted to change the excessive gambling of the player, it often resulted in their experiencing emotional and physical health problems.
It has an impact at the societal level too. In cyberspace, adolescents often used fake identities and used a parent’s credit card, and individuals, who might be prevented from accessing one site, could always access another, the report said. With easy and cheap access available to a large section of the population, it was increasingly possible to gamble even during work hours.
The report said internet gambling, which comes under “internet gaming”, was the fastest growing mode of gambling, and was changing the way that gamblers engaged with the activity. It also cited research findings that indicated that there was an association between gambling and attempts to end life.
Gamblers, who indulge in high-risk gambling behaviours, are at an increased risk of ending their lives and those of them, with comorbid substance use disorders and other mental health conditions, were at a higher risk of taking the extreme step, the report contended.
The report pointed out that there were 17 deaths by suicide across Tamil Nadu in the past three years due to online gaming with stakes.
Though legislation banning online gaming was enacted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly in February 2021, the Madras High Court struck it down in August that year. The appeal filed by the government in the Supreme Court in November is yet to be taken up for hearing.
( Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)