Aimed at safeguarding the users against potential harm, India has proposed a ban on betting and betting advertisements in online gaming. Moreover, online gaming companies are required to register themselves with self-regulatory body to avoid such practices, according to the draft amendments to the IT intermediary rules 2021, pertaining to Online Gaming for public consultations.
In a notice, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) said “with the user base of online games growing in India, need has been felt to ensure that such games be offered in conformity with Indian laws and that the users of such games be safeguarded against potential harm. Further, with a view to enable consideration of issues related to online gaming in their totality.”
The Government on December 26, through a gazette notification, notified change in Allocation of Business rules designating Meity as the nodal ministry for online gaming related concerns. After a week, the Ministry released the draft rules for public consultation.
The Ministry further said that the draft amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were made in exercise of its powers under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The draft amendments are aimed at addressing the said need, while enabling the growth of the online gaming industry in a responsible manner.
The draft amendments envisage that an online gaming intermediary shall observe the due diligence required under the IT 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. Moreover, it shall observe additional due diligence by displaying a registration mark on all online games registered by a self-regulatory body and informing its users regarding its policy related to withdrawal or refund of deposit, manner of determination and distribution of winnings, fees and other charges payable and KYC procedure for user account registration. Self-regulatory bodies will be registered with the Ministry and may register online games of such online gaming intermediaries who are its members and which meet certain criteria. Such bodies will also resolve complaints through a grievance redressal mechanism. The draft amendments are placed on the Ministry’s website at https://www.meity.gov.in/content/draft-amendments-it-intermediary-guidelines-and-digitalmedia-ethics-code-rules-2021.
WHAT THE IT MINISTER SAID
On the proposed draft, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar affirmed, “The rules are simple – we would like the online gaming ecosystem to expand & 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”.
The Minister said that the Ministry had moved swiftly in framing of the policy and this was possible due to a series of meetings/consultations conducted by MeiTY with stakeholders prior to drafting the policy. He added that the Ministry would be holding another set of public consultations to finalize the policy soon.
He said 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.
As of now, the age gating is 18 years and we would like to keep it that way and see if the present framework works to expand the innovation ecosystem around online gaming while keeping it safe & trusted for gamers.
Speaking on the safety concerns, the Minister said around 40 to 45 percent of the gamers in India are women, and therefore it was all more important to keep the gaming ecosystem safe.
He said the draft rules have strict provisions against betting and wagering. The online games that allow wagering on the outcome are effectively a no-go area, he stressed.