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MeitY releases amendments draft for online gaming

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Following their appointment as the nodal agency for online gaming last week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) released a draft of amendments to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, on Monday.

The amendments are related to online gaming rules in the country, as the gaming industry is witnessing a boom.

“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,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, at a press briefing on Monday.

He added that public consultations would be held before the policy is finalised. In the future, the draft might regulate the content of online games to ensure there’s no violent, addictive or sexual content.

The draft also has strict provisions against gambling, wagering and betting in games, as the MoS stressed that “online games that allow wagering on the outcome are effectively a no-go area”.

The age gating has been kept at 18 and the MoS also emphasised that kids under the age of 18 will need parental consent to play these games.

However, it’s unclear whether the games recognised as games of skill will continue to operate once the new policy is in place.

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“The Ministry had moved swiftly in framing the policy, and this was possible due to a series of meetings/consultations conducted by MeiTY with stakeholders before drafting the policy,” he added.

Safety in the online gaming ecosystem is a priority in the draft, as according to the MoS, around 40 to 45 percent of gamers in India are women.

MeitY expects to finalise the rules by February 2023. The draft has been prepared 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.

Any developer or company running more than one game (referred to as an online gaming intermediary in the draft) will have to register with a self-regulating authority and conform to these rules.

“We believe this is a great first step for comprehensive regulation of online gaming and will hopefully reduce the state-wise regulatory fragmentation that was a big challenge for the industry,” said Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation.

India’s gaming ecosystem has undoubtedly seen a growth in engagement over the past five years, especially with the rise in the number of tournaments being held in the country. As the new year begins, India Premiership 2023 is scheduled to kick off on January 5.

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