With gaming seeing rapid growth over the past few years, doubts have been raised over the rampant rise of gambling titles masquerading as online games. To protect users from the harmful effects of gambling, the Indian government is taking steps to make sure “online games” conform with Indian laws.
Recently, all matters of online gaming were allocated to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The government has also proposed new amendments, which state that “an online gaming intermediary shall observe the due diligence required under the rules while discharging its duties, including reasonable efforts to cause its users not to host, display, upload, publish, transmit or share an online game not in conformity with Indian law, including any law on gambling or betting.” This means the ministry is directly taking on the gambling circuit that has infiltrated the gaming space.
The amended rules will be applicable to all online gaming matters. As part of the process, MeitY has shared the draft amendments made to the Information Technology Rules, 2021 after “taking into account inputs received from various Ministries/Departments concerned as well as other stakeholders.”
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According to the amendments the government is proposing a “Self-Regulatory Body” (SRO) to keep a tab on everything. Online gaming intermediaries will need to highlight an SRO registration mark on all online games. These games should also include the policies around refund or withdraw of deposit gambled “with the expectation of such winnings, and the fees and other charges payable by the user for each such online game.”
The notice regarding these amendments also suggests that the self-regulatory bodies will also “resolve complaints through a grievance redressal mechanism.” MeitY has released the draft amendments for the general public to view, and the ministry is also inviting public feedback regarding these changes.
Gambling and not gaming
With these changes, the government aims to protect the masses from the harrowing negative effects that come with the murky waters of online gambling, which continues to grow rapidly in India. India has reached out to MeitY to get further clarification between Esports, online gaming and more. We will update the copy as and when we hear back. Considering the scenarios outlined in the draft, it looks like this is purely aimed at gambling companies. However, it is sad to see these companies continued to be termed as “online gaming” companies.