India: panel recommends new regulator for online skill games

The mobile gaming industry in India is estimated to reach $5bn by 2025.
The mobile gaming industry in India is estimated to reach $5bn by 2025.

The panel has suggested India should create a regulatory body to classify online games based on skill or chance.

India.- A panel set up by prime minister Narendra Modi has concluded that India should establish a regulatory body for online skill games. The regulator would classify which online games as based on skill or chance, implement rules to block prohibited formats and enforce stricter gambling regulations.

According to Reuters, the report recommends that a separate law should be enacted to regulate online gaming as a “long-term measure”. In the interim, IT law could be used to regulate the industry until a new law is enacted.

The report also suggests India’s IT ministry act as the central ministry for online gaming, except for e-sports and games of chance and adds that any online gaming platform offering real money online games to Indian users should have a legal entity incorporated under Indian law.

All games of skill should be covered by any new legal framework, including esports, online fantasy sports, card games, and other casual games. Both Indian gaming companies and offshore companies targeting Indian consumers would be subject to the rules.

The report also calls for laws and rules on “addiction measures” such as regular warnings and advice and deposit and withdrawal limits. It also calls for “responsible advertising”.

The IT ministry will finalise the report after receiving further comments from panellists, including the heads of the finance and sports ministries. It will be then sent to the Cabinet Secretariat for approval, although there is no timeline.

The highly anticipated report will shape the future of India’s mobile gaming industry, which is expected to be worth $5bn by 2025.

To date, apart from the Supreme Court’s precedent on skill-based gambling, there is no federal statute to govern India’s gambling industry, with each state taking its own stance on the issue. In March, the All India Game Federation (AIGF) urged Indian states to take a proactive approach to develop a robust policy framework for the online gaming industry.

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