January 3, 2022 ( Updated January 4): India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released draft amendments to the IT intermediary rules 2021, pertaining to Online Gaming for public consultations.
The stated aim is to ensure that online games should be offered in conformity with Indian laws and that the users of such games be safeguarded against potential harm.
On December 26 2022, the Government through a gazette notification, notified change in Allocation of Business rules designating Meity as the nodal ministry for online gaming related concerns. A week later, the Ministry has released the draft rules for public consultation.
Said Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar: "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 Ministry had moved swiftly in framing of the policy , he added, and this was possible due to a series of meetings/consultations conducted by MeiTY with stakeholders prior to drafting the policy. The Ministry would be holding another set of public consultations to finalize the policy soon.
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, the Minister said
Regarding 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.
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.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India, the largest trade body representing consumer internet companies in India, has said that it is best suited to form the proposed Self-Regulatory Organisation for online gaming.
The association was responding to two recent developments. First under the rules of business notified on 26 December 2022, vide which the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology was made responsible for formulating rules and regulations for online gaming and second, media reports that the Ministry was working on creating an SRO for the online gaming sector.
Says Dr Subho Ray, President, IAMAI: “Given our hands-on experience in running a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting mandated and registered SRO for Online Curated Content Companies and another industry driven SRO with the support of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs for the EduTech Sector we are best suited to set up and manage the Online Gaming SRO. Also, given our wide range of membership in the online games of skill segment, we would be able to pull various types of skill based online gaming firms into the SRO”.
The association is also of the view that matters relating to online gaming going to MeitY is a strong signal by the government to encourage this segment to grow in a regulated and orderly fashion while at the same time create proper institutional mechanisms for redressal of consumer grievances.