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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

IT Ministry Issues New Rules for Online Gaming; Prohibits Betting

The Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India, today announced amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, related to online gaming and the dissemination of false and misleading information regarding government business, reiterating its commitment to safeguarding the safety and trust of the Digital Nagriks.

With these reforms, online gaming and social media intermediaries will be required to exercise greater due diligence when it comes to online games and inaccurate or misleading information about official business.

It is Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision and goal that young Indians get every opportunity possible to create startups and innovate for the world. Online gaming is certainly a huge opportunity for India and Young Indians. 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.

Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar

These revisions were created following extensive talks with a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, academics, students, gamers, associations for the gaming industry, organizations for children’s rights, etc.

In accordance with the Government of India (Allocation of Business Rules), 1961, the issue pertaining to online gambling regulations was assigned to the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on December 23 of last year. The Ministry created the proposed IT rule revisions within a fortnight, and on January 2, 2023, it posted them for comments. Stakeholder meetings were held on January 11, January 17, and February 16, 2023.

Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar also added, “We are dealing with a framework which allows for all online gaming to be determined as permissible or not, by an SRO and there will be multiple SROs.

Here is the draft made by The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY):

  • As per the amended rules, it has been made obligatory on the part of intermediaries to make a 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.
    • The intermediary will also have to ensure that no advertisement or surrogate advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game, is hosted on its platform.
  • The self-regulatory body will have the authority to inquire and satisfy itself that the online game does not involve wagering on any outcome, that the online gaming intermediary and the game comply with the rules, the requirements under law for being competent to enter into a contract (currently at 18 years), and a framework made by the self-regulatory body 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.
  • The amended rules also cast additional obligations on online gaming intermediaries in relation to online games involving real money. These include the displaying of a mark of verification by the self-regulatory body on such games; informing their users of the policy for withdrawal or refund of the deposit, manner of determination and distribution of winnings, fees, and other charges payable; obtaining the KYC details of the users; and not giving credit or enabling financing by third parties to the users.
    • 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.
  • The Government may notify multiple self-regulatory bodies, which shall be representative of the online gaming industry but it will function at arm’s length from their members, and a 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 rules provide for the obligations to become applicable once a sufficient number of self-regulatory bodies have been designated so that the online gaming industry has adequate time to comply with its obligations.
  • The amended rules now also make it obligatory for the intermediaries not to publish, share or host fake, false, or misleading information in respect of any business of the Central Government.
    • This fake, false, or misleading information will be identified by the notified Fact Check Unit of the Central Government. it is to be noted that the existing IT rules already required the intermediaries to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.
  • The rules already cast an obligation on intermediaries to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any information which is patently false and untrue, or misleading in nature.

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Aritra Patra
Aritra Patra
Executive Editor at TalkEsport | CS2 enthusiast ▄︻デ══━一
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