The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has released a draft of rules for online gaming companies. According to which, betting or gambling on outcomes will not be allowed.
The Ministry has also asked online gaming companies to register themselves with a self-regulatory body that will be accountable to the online gaming rules. The draft has proposed a self-regulatory mechanism, which in future may also regulate the content of online gaming and ensure that the games do not have violent, addictive or sexual content.
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that the rules are simple.
“We would like the online gaming ecosystem to expand and grow and be an important catalyst to India’s one trillion-dollar digital economy goal by 2025-26. We also envision a bigger role for startups in the online gaming industry,” he added.
On the safety concerns, Chandrasekhar said that as of now, the age-gating is 18 years and that the Ministry would like to stay with the limit. He added that 40 to 45pc of the gamers in India are women, and therefore it was all the more important to keep the gaming ecosystem safe.
The Ministry would be holding another set of public consultations to finalise the policy soon.
Welcoming the move, Nitish Mittersain, Founder & CEO, Nazara Technologies said that there are a number of recommendations which will ensure safety of players and responsible gaming. In addition, it lays down a process by which the industry will self-regulate itself under the guidance of MEITY, he added.
Mittersain noted that there are a lot of details which will need to be studied in depth.
“There’s a one-month consultation period during which we will provide our inputs to the central government. However, on behalf of the Indian gaming industry as well as Nazara, our sincere thanks to MEITY and Shri Rajeev Chandrashekhar for taking this important step forward and we think this can catalyse a lot of growth for the industry, which will in turn result in significant job creation as well as accelerate India’s position on the global gaming map,” Mittersain added.
Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation, said that the body welcomes the release of amendments to Intermediary Guidelines Rules, which will now specifically also cover gaming intermediaries.
Landers said, “We are grateful to the Government for acknowledging the long-standing need of the gamers and the online gaming industry. We believe this is a great first step for comprehensive regulation for online gaming and will hopefully reduce the state-wise regulatory fragmentation that was a big challenge for the industry. These rules will go a long way in ensuring consumer interest while helping the industry grow responsibly and transparently. These rules will also be a start in curbing the menace of anti-national and illegal offshore gambling platforms.”
“President Droupadi Murmu has signed a notification to amend Allocation of Business (AOB) Rules to place online gaming under the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MeitY). The allocation of a nodal ministry for the sector has resolved a long-standing debate on considering gaming platforms as intermediaries or publishers. MeitY, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs were considered to be key contenders to govern the sector,” Landers observed.
“We are especially grateful that the Government has heard the industry and provided light-touch regulation, which will help in innovation and will boost ‘Create in India’ and ‘Brand India’. We look forward to continuing the work we have been undertaking at the All-India Skill Games Council (AIGSC), the oldest and largest self-regulatory body for online gaming. The Government has maintained a very open and transparent approach, and we look forward to engaging further during the consultation period. AIGF is duty-bound to provide utmost support to the government in making this sector a cornerstone of the $1 trillion digital Indian economy,” Landers added.