The year, 2022 has been a year of transition and change for the gaming industry. This year esports and gaming including the industry’s greater increased acceptance by the sports authorities and higher prize pools for top players, has been more commercial than ever, according to research by the year 2025 the industry will witness growth by 5 million dollars and around 420 million active gamers from India. Since, India is on the way to become world’s largest gaming market, with revenue earned in 2021 increasing by up to 28%, or 1.2 billion dollars, and predicted to reach 2 billion dollars by 2024 as a result of the COVID-19 expanding internet access throughout the country.
After a lengthy debate, the government has finally decided to bring online gaming under the purview of the law. The President of India has changed the rules governing e-sports and requested that the Sports Ministry and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) include e-sports in multi-sport competitions. India’s gaming sector has reached new heights this year, with the country winning its first bronze medal in the first esports event organized by this year’s Commonwealth Games, and this is only the beginning.
Indian government takes on E-sports
The Indian government has given esports a huge boost. It has been introduced into the traditional sports disciplines of the nation. Droupadi Murmu, the President of India, changed the regulations governing eSports using the authority “conferred by clause (3) of Article 77 of the Constitution,” and requested that “e-Sports be included as part of multi-sports events” from the Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology and Sports. Some crucial points will clarify the government’s position on e-sports.
- E-sports were added as a demonstration sport to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, which meant that medals earned in the sport were not counted in the official total of medals.
- There is a greater desire for Esports to be integrated with school curricula.
- E-Sports (Electronic Sports) have been acknowledged by the Indian government as a component of multi-sport tournaments.
Why is e-sports important?
The Indian Esports Industry has worked hard to distinguish Esports from the broader category of “Gaming.” Esports is a competitive sport in which esports athletes compete in specific video game genres in a virtual, electronic environment using their physical and mental prowess, according to the industry.
According to studies, as individuals have gotten more screen aware and online gaming has become a part of their life, internet gaming not only improves fine motor skills but also sharpens the mind. The industry has the most users and stakeholders, and it has become critical to governing it; consequently, legislation is required to regulate it.
The online regulation bill 2022
The Online Gaming (Regulations) Bill, 2022, was recently filed in the Lok Sabha to create an effective regulatory mechanism for the online gaming business to prevent fraud and misuse of things related to or incidental to it. There are 20 sections spread throughout three chapters. It intends to establish an Online Gaming Commission, the authority, mandate, and jurisdiction of which will be specified by the Bill. An online gaming server will be licensed, relinquished, revoked, or suspended by the Commission’s key highlights of the bill to make it more clear
- The Bill establishes a regulating agency, the Online Gaming Commission (“OGC”), comprised of five members chosen by the Central Government, each with at least one specialist in the fields of law, cyber technology, and law enforcement experience.
- The OGC will be able to oversee the functions of online gaming websites, issue periodic or special reports on Online Gaming issues, recommend appropriate measures to control and curb illegal Online Gaming, grant, suspend, and revoke licenses for online gaming websites, and set fees for license applications and renewals.
- Without a website and a non-transferable and non-assignable license, the Bill proposes to make online gambling illegal. Anyone operating an online gaming server or website without a license risks up to three years in prison and a fine. The permission will be good for a six-year term.
- The license intended to be given under the Bill may be terminated or canceled if the licensee violates any of the license’s requirements or any of Bill’s provisions. However, the Bill does not apply to anybody providing backend services in India, including hosting and maintenance for any international gaming website situated outside of India.
- The bill also mentions the Foreign Direct Investment and Technology Collaboration in Online Gaming
Few misses in the bill that can be addressed to make it stronger and a better version
- The law does not address Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, customer complaint procedures, advertising and marketing restrictions, user data protection, responsible gaming guidelines, and other concerns.
- In the bill, there is no clear distinction between money involved in the game. This is a matter of concern and needs to be addressed so the money laundering aspect can be determined.
- The distinction between “games of chance” and “games of skill” is not addressed in the Bill. Furthermore, the Bill does not specify whether its prohibitions apply only to for-real-money games or to free games.
Despite the bill’s flaws, it has offered optimism to the burgeoning gaming sector, which desperately needs a robust regulatory and legal framework free of ambiguity, allowing players to play safely, and encouraging entrepreneurs to enter the field with safety and security. An improved regulatory framework will increase job prospects while also assisting the government. A transparent framework will also aid in the protection of the rights of actors and stakeholders.