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IT Ministry’s new draft rules propose ban on betting in online games, moots self-regulatory body

Draft rules released Monday also ban betting advertisements. Govt will now hold 'extensive consultations' with gamers, startups, investors & think tanks before rules are finalised.

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has proposed a ban on betting and betting advertisements in online gaming, according to draft rules it made public Monday.

The Draft Amendments to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 place a complete ban on “wagering in any game”,  Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology, told mediapersons at a press conference Monday evening. 

The rules also propose a self-regulatory mechanism to address grievances.

“The rules are very simple, online gaming betting and gaming betting advertisements have been brought under prohibition (sic),” Chandrasekhar said. “A self-regulatory body has been designed and built into the rules that will be responsible for determining, in a sense certifying, what is the permitted online gaming intermediary on the internet. Any online game that permits wagering as an outcome is effectively a no-go area.”

Verification for gamers and stricter KYC norms are key elements of these rules. 

The ministry will conduct “extensive consultations” with gamers, startups, investors, and think tanks this month before the regulations are finalised, Chandrasekhar said.

This comes days after the ministry announced that it was considering a regulatory policy for online gaming. 

Industry bodies such as the All India Gaming Federation — the apex body for online skill gaming in India — have lauded the move. AIGF’s chief executive officer, Roland Landers, called it “a great first step for comprehensive regulation for online gaming and will hopefully reduce the state-wise regulatory fragmentation that was a big challenge for the industry”. 

“These rules will go a long way in ensuring consumer interest while helping the industry grow responsibly and transparently. These rules will also be a start in curbing the menace of anti-national and illegal offshore gambling platforms,” he said. 

Also Read: Grievance redressal board, Rs 500 cr fine, key features of new personal data protection draft bill

What the draft rules say

The MEITY is likely to come up with the final rules by early February, Chandrasekhar said.

“These rules don’t regulate a game of chance or game of skill. (The) rules only regulate betting. It is basically a prohibition of wagering on any game. Nothing that permits you to wager (on) an outcome of a game shall be permitted. It is the self-regulatory mechanism that will determine whether it is a permitted intermediary,” he told the media.

The minister said that the rules will not differentiate between skill-based games and games of chance — a contentious issue in India — and added that he was keen on the “prohibition of wagering on any online game”.

More details on the age-gating and the specific constituents of a self-regulatory authority will be deliberated upon in January, he said.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Centre tells FM radio channels to avoid content glorifying drugs, gun culture and alcohol


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