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MeitY wages war against online betting, unveils key amendments to online gaming rules

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has made changes to the rules governing online gaming in India to curb online gambling and wagering. Here’s what the new rules say.

Edited By: Shweta Ganjoo

Published: Apr 06, 2023, 06:44 PM IST

Rajeev Chandrashekhar
Rajeev Chandrashekhar

Story Highlights

  • MeitY has made changes to rules governing online gaming.
  • MeitY will set up SROs to monitor online gaming.
  • These changes were unveiled by Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has made major changes to the laws governing online gaming in India. As per the new rules set by the Indian goverment, self-regulatory organisations or SROs will decide if online games will be permitted to operate within the country. The new rules that were notified by the Union Minister of State for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrashekar also put a ban on wagering or betting in the country.

MeitY says that the aim of these amendments is to enforce greater due diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries in respect of online games & fake or false misleading information related to Government business.

“We see the Indian online gaming ecosystem to expand and grow into a multi-billion dollar industry and be an important catalyst to India’s One trillion-dollar Digital economy goal by 2025-26, with very clear restrictions on online wagering and betting,” MoS Rajeev Chandrashekar said at a press conference.

As per the amended rules, it has been made obligatory on the part of intermediaries to make reasonable effort to not host, publish or share any online game that can cause the user harm, or that has not been verified as a permissible online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body/bodies designated by the Central government.

Rules will also ensure that online games or sites that involve wagering will be banned completely including advertising or any time of presence.

What do the new rules say?

— The new rules make it mandatory for the intermediaries (say Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store) to ‘not host, publish or share any online game that can cause the user harm, or that has not been verified as a permissible online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body/bodies’ or SRO designated by the Central Government.

— The intermediaries will have to ensure that no advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game, is hosted on their platform. Or in other words, the new rules bans promoting games that have not been permitted by an SRO.

— The SRO will verify that an online game “does not involve wagering on any outcome and that the online gaming intermediary and the game comply with the rules and requirements under law. The SRO will also have to set up a framework regarding safeguards against user harm, including psychological harm, measures to safeguard through parental controls, age-rating mechanism, and measures to safeguard users against the risk of gaming addiction.

— Under the new rules, online gaming intermediaries will have to show a mark of verification by the SRO for games that involve real money.

— The intermediaries will also have to inform their users of the policy for withdrawal or refund of deposit, manner of determination and distribution of winnings, and fees and other charges payable. They will also have to obtain the KYC details of the users. Additionally, these intermediaries cannot not give credit or enable financing by third parties to the users for playing online games involving real money.

“If in case the Central Government issues a notification in the interest of users or other specified grounds, the same rules and obligations will be made applicable to even those games where the user is not required to make any deposit for winnings,” MeitY says.

— The SROs will include representatives of online gaming industry, but it will function at arm’s length from their members. These SROs will be governed by a separate Board consisting of Directors who are free from conflict of interest and represent all relevant stakeholders and experts, including online games users, educationists, psychology or mental health experts, ICT experts, persons with child rights protection experience and individuals having experience in relevant fields of public policy and administration.

— The new rules now also make it mandatory for the intermediaries to not to publish, share or host fake, false or misleading information in respect of any business of the Central Government.

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Author Name | Shweta Ganjoo

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