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On April 6, 2023, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India (MEITY) announced amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediate Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Regulations, 2021 relating to online gaming. The revised regulations aim to regulate India’s fast-growing online gaming industry and protect users from harmful content.
The Information Technology (Intermediate Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Digital Media) Amendment Regulations 2023, introduced in April by India’s Ministry of Information Technology (MEITY), marks a significant change in India’s approach to online gaming regulation. These regulations aim to provide a framework for responsible and ethical gaming practices and bring order to the usually chaotic Indian gaming laws and regulations. The revenue of the Indian mobile gaming industry is expected to reach $5 billion by 2025, representing a CAGR of 28-30%. Moreover, the number of gamers in India is also expected to increase to 500 million by 2025.
The New Definition of Online Gaming
One of the significant changes introduced by these rules is that online games will be considered “acceptable online real money games” after review by the Online Gaming Regulatory Board (SRB) of “online real money games” (ORM games). are classified. Classified as
The SRB is intended to be a self-regulatory body approved by MEITY with the primary role of validating ORM games as acceptable ORM games. The rules empower MEITY to appoint as many SRBs as it deems necessary. An SRB may be established as a not-for-profit organization with representatives of the gaming industry as members under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.
The SRB may classify an ORM game as an acceptable ORM game based on its members’ plans.
a) ORM games do not include betting on results. And
b) compliance of online game intermediaries and such online games with regulations;
In addition, the regulations require online gaming intermediaries to establish grievance redressal mechanisms that allow users to report violations of the rules or anything they find offensive or offensive and seek redress.
Regulations on Online Gaming
The development comes less than a week after the government designated the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the lead agency for all online gaming matters.
“The rules regulate betting. It basically prohibits betting on any game. The SRO decides whether the game is allowed,” Chandrasekhar said. “Online games that offer prizes, games that allow betting on the outcome, are virtually unrestricted. Betting on the outcome of a game is prohibited under 3(b) 10 of the IT Rules.”
He said that children under 18 need parental consent to play these games.
These regulations are expected to shape the future of the country’s growing online gaming industry. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said: We hope to finalize the final regulations by the beginning of February.
Scope of Online Gaming
Chandrasekhar said online gaming is “a very important part of the startup ecosystem and part of the goal of a trillion-dollar economy,” adding that the government is committed to ensuring that Indian startups have every opportunity. He added that he will work hard. To be sure of it
The Games and Interactive Media Investment Fund report shows that the revenue of the country’s gaming sector will reach $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 from $2.0 billion in fiscal year 2022, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27% in fiscal year 2027. increase to 8.6 billion dollars. based on a report by the Lumikai gaming and interactive media venture fund.
Making Sure of Compliance
Online gaming intermediates must designate compliance managers who will be in charge of making sure that the intermediary conforms with the following requirements. The rules must be followed by the legal ORM games, and online gaming mediators must take care to host no legal ORM games that have not been approved by the SRBs. The term “intermediaries” in the context of online gaming is ambiguous; it is unclear whether it refers to platforms such as app stores that host online games as well as game publishers. However, it can be assumed that online game publishers will be regarded as online gaming intermediaries based on the Rules’ intended use. As a result, the government will have the authority through the Information Technology Act to shut down any gambling intermediaries that are not compliant.
It should be noted that the phrases online gaming, gambling, and betting are frequently used synonymously in India. Indian law permits games of skill but forbids games of chance. However, neither term has a set definition, although there are several decisions from the Supreme Court and various high courts that provide some clarification. The issue is not clarified by the Rules, and SRBs must use their subjective judgment to determine if an ORM game contains a gambling element, or element of chance.
Subject under State
Additionally, according to the Indian Constitution, gambling (whether it be offline or online) is a state subject (under Entry 34, List II “Gambling” and “Betting”). As a result, each state is free to enact laws that govern online gaming, and those laws will take precedence over the Rules.
The majority of states still adhere to the Public Gambling Act of 1867 from the colonial era, however Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Sikkim have attempted to provide a regulatory framework for internet games. Real money online gaming has lately been outlawed in Tamil Nadu, and it is also forbidden in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Odisha. This implies that, under the current legal system, different governments may prohibit or limit various internet games, particularly those that involve real money and are considered “games of chance” based on their individual legislative judgement. As a result, an online game that is legal in one state can be against the law in another. Therefore, even if a game is listed as an acceptable ORM game, it may not be legal in any specific state if the local laws forbid it. Finally, since gambling and betting are prohibited in India, a lack of clarity regarding what qualifies as a game of skill could deter foreign capital from investing in this industry.
Despite this, India’s strategy for controlling the online gaming industry has changed significantly as a result of the Rules. They demonstrate the growing understanding of the necessity of encouraging moral and responsible actions in the field of online gaming.
Contributed Ankit Raj Sharma
Edited by Imtiaz Ullah
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