• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has released draft amendments in relation to online gaming.
  • The idea is to ensure that online games are in conformity with Indian laws and to safeguard users against potential harm.
  • The Minister of State at MeitY Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that the draft proposes a self-regulatory mechanism which, in future, may also regulate the content of online gaming. Feedback is invited until January 17.

What changes are being proposed?

  • The proposals are aimed at safeguarding the interests of users by introducing set procedures and norms for verification and user engagement.
  • More importantly, the draft proposal defines what constitutes an ‘online game’. It is “a game that is offered on the internet and is accessible by a user through a computer resource if he makes a deposit with the expectation of earning winnings”.
  • ‘Winning’ constitutes any prize, in cash or kind, intended to be given to the participant “on the performance of the user and in accordance with the rules of such online game”.
  • This addresses the discourse in the sector about the definitions of a ‘game of skill’ and ‘game of chance’.
  • The proposal endeavours to provide for greater transparency. The game operators would have to verify users on the platform and provide them with the terms of services.
  • For the monetary aspect of it, operators would have to inform the user about the policy related to withdrawal or refund of their deposit, measures taken for its protection, the manner and distribution of winnings and the fees and other charges to be paid by the user.
  • They would also have to be informed about the risk of potential financial loss and addiction associated with the game.
  • Addiction is to be combated using repeated warning messages should the user exceed a reasonable duration while playing a certain game.

What about the platforms?

  • Before hosting or publishing a game, the platform would have to verify it from the self-regulatory body it is associated with.
  • It would then be required to carry a registration mark on all its recognised online games. The platform is expected to appoint a key management personnel or senior employee as its Chief Compliance Officer who would be entrusted with coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with their orders or requisitions.
  • Further, it must have in place an appropriate mechanism for receipt and resolution of grievances.
  • The complainant must be able to track the status of the same using a unique ticket number. MeitY is responsibility of recognising all self-regulated bodies under the proposed framework.

How is the industry reacting?

  • Experts have welcomed the government’s initiative to bring online gaming under a central regulation.
  • This will help curb the menace of anti-national and illegal offshore gambling platforms, Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation, industry body for online gaming told The Hindu.
  • A uniform framework like this will increase investor confidence, Sai Srinivas, co-founder and CEO of mobile esports and digital gaming platform, Mobile Premier League, stated.

What are some of the concerns?

  • The rules still bucket all gaming intermediaries into a broad category irrespective of size or risk.
  • They all require similar compliances, including the need to have India based officers. This can make it difficult for global players to start their services in India, Rohit Kumar, founding partner at The Quantum Hub Consulting, told The Hindu.


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