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IT Ministry notifies online gaming rules, to allow multiple self-regulatory bodies


The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Thursday formally notified the rules for online gaming. 

The ministry earlier this year had released draft rules under which it has proposed a host of measures to regulate online gaming. 

As expected, the notification [pdf] emphasizes self-regulation and due diligence, among other things. The notification says the ministry may designate as many online gaming self-regulatory bodies as it may consider necessary for the purposes of verifying an online real money game as a permissible online real money game under these rules. 

A self-regulatory body can consist of individuals with knowledge of or practical experience in the online gaming industry, expert in the field of psychology or mental health, person who is or has been a member or officer of an organisation dealing with the protection of child rights, among others.

The online regulatory body will need to publish a framework for verifying an online real money game, which includes measures that such online real money gaming is not against the interests of sovereignty of the country.

It also calls for safeguards against user harm, including self-harm and psychological harm, safeguard children, including measures for parental or access control and classifying online games through age-rating mechanism, based on the nature and type of content. The regulatory body will also be responsible for safeguarding users against the risk of gaming addiction, financial loss, and fraud through repeated warning messages.

The notification also comes after the Union Cabinet made the MEITY the nodal authority for the ‘online gaming’ industry. The move came as a response to the long demand to regulate the space, which also involves several online gaming platforms dealing with real money transactions. In the past, a few Indian states have made efforts to curb these real money gaming platforms amid increasing cases of addiction and financial risks.

Stakeholders in the gaming industry have expressed content on the notification.

Games24x7 co-CEO and cofounder Trivikraman Thampy in a statement said that the ministry has adopted their recommendations on the draft rules during the consultation period. 

“The clarity in the definition of online gaming, including specific permissible online real money games will ensure there is a clear distinction of online gaming platforms from betting and gambling, which will not be permitted. The allowance for multiple self-regulatory bodies  will enable the industry to be adequately represented according to the varying nature and operational models of online games,” he said in the statement.

Harsh Jain, co-founder and CEO of Dream11 and Dream Sports, said, “We welcome the regulations announced by the Hon. MoS Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar. They will unlock the potential for our $20 Billion Indian Online Gaming industry to significantly contribute to our Hon. Prime Minister’s vision of a trillion dollar digital economy.”

“… India’s online gaming industry has already attracted $2.5B in FDI and we are hopeful that this will propel the industry to great heights and encourage innovation. We look forward to engaging with MeitY to seek requisite clarifications as our members initiate the compliance process,” Joy Bhattacharjya, Director-General, FIFS, said in a statement.

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