Rules regarding online gaming
GS Paper 2
Directions: This is taken from the explained section of Indian Express.
Context: A task force set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has prepared a final report of its recommendations to regulate the online gaming industry in India.
What is online gaming?
- An online game is a video game that is either partially or primarily played through the Internet or any other computer network available.
What are the types of online gaming?
- e-sports (well-organized electronic sports which include professional players),
- Fantasy sports
- Casual games: these can be either skill-based (mental skill) or chance based (based on a random activity like a roll of a dice) online games.
How big is the online gaming market in India?
- Revenue generated: The revenue is estimated to reach $5 billion in 2025.
- Growth:CAGR of 38% between 2017-2020, as opposed to 8% in China and 10% in the US.
Law on online gaming in India
- State subject: Online gaming so far has been a state subject, but state governments are finding it extremely difficult to enforce certain rules like geo-blocking certain apps or websites within the territory of their state.
- Applicability issue: there is a concern that rules passed in one state are not applicable in another, which has caused inconsistency in regulation.
- Lack enough power: State governments also do not have enough blocking powers like the Centre to issue blocking orders for offshore betting sites.
Societal concerns that can emerge with the proliferation of online gaming—
- Increased suicidal incidents: people are losing large sums of money on online games, leading to suicides in various parts of the country.
- Uncertainty: For online gaming businesses, inconsistency has led to uncertainty.
- Other concerns: there is currently no regulatory framework to govern various aspects of online gaming companies such as having a grievance redressal mechanism, implementing player protection measures,protecting data and intellectual property rights, and prohibiting misleading advertisements.
What are the recommendations of the task force?
- Central-level law for online gaming should apply
- Casual games with no real money element in the form of stakes may be kept outside the scope of such rules.
- Creating a regulatory body for the online gaming industry
- A three-tier dispute resolution mechanism, similar to that prescribed under the Information Technology Rules, 2021 for online streaming services.
- Any online gaming platform – domestic or foreign– need to be a legal entity incorporated under Indian law.
- Regulating Body: MeitY may act as a nodal ministry to regulate online gaming, except for the e-sports category on which the Department of Sports can take the lead.
- Information and Broadcasting Ministry can regulate advertisements, code of ethics relating to content classifications, etc.
- Consumer Affairs Ministry can regulate the sector for unfair trade practices.
What did the task force say about offshore betting apps?
- On the aspect of prohibiting games of chance, gambling websites, or apps being played online, the proposed Digital India Act can include it in the list of prohibited user harms that will not be permitted.
Q. “Internet gaming has turned worse than drugs”. Do you agree? Critically examine the statement in light of the announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to include “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition. (250 words)
Q. How does gaming addiction, impact children? Do you think China’s recent imposition of a three-hour limit on gaming, is a good way to tackle it? (150 words)