The government has allowed the Ministry of electronics and information technology the duty of implementing and regulating online gaming along with esports which will be under the supervision of the ministry of youth affairs and sports.
All these changes have been applied in the allocation of the business rules on December 26 with sheer involvement and recommendation from the committee of secretaries, headed by cabinet secretary Rajib Gauba, in a meeting on October 26 which is also in line with the suggestion made by the inter-ministerial task force in its report back on September 29.
The Ministry of information and broadcasting would, if required, “continue” strict monitoring of online gaming, advertisements and the code of ethics, among others. The centre has asked the IT ministry to work on “drafting a legislative framework to regulate online gaming” which would not make any distinction between games of “skills” and games of “chance”.
“These amendments do not impede the states’ power to regulate online gaming in any way,” lawyer Siddarth Iyer told Newslaundry, pointing out the fact that the nodal minority at the centre for online gaming and esports will be the IT Ministry and Sports Ministry. He Further Commented that “This clarifies that the IT ministry has jurisdiction over online gaming, something they had refused in their affidavit before the Delhi High court”. Iyer has represented Avinssh Mehrotra before Delhi court in Supreme Courts for his petition for a ban on online real money games.
In today’s world, online gaming ranges from casual games like candy crush, teen patti which involve real money, fantasy sports, which may or may not involve real money, and skills games. Esports is a version of gaming where virtual players compete against each other with live audiences. The urge for a uniform and unbiased law on online gaming has been voiced by multiple parties including the estate governments, the online gaming industry, the law commission of India and also Niti Aayog.
On May 6, 2022, the inter-ministerial task force was formed with the secretaries of different central-level ministries and the CEO of Niti Aayog with whose consultation on June 7 the gaming industry asked the centre for legislation on online gaming to which 13 states and union territories participated. The Task Force’s report emphasised the need to have a “single regulatory body(either central or self) that will address the issues regarding online gaming and resolve their grievances.”
As reported by Newslaundry, Prime Minister’s Advisor Tarun Kapoor said that online gaming “may be considered as one activity/service” with no distinction made between “skill” and “chance” as is “ the global practice”. This becomes a contradiction with the odds of the Task Force, who said that the difference between games of skill and chase must be made clear since games of chance gambling are a state subject to which members of Niti Aayog said such definitions would have implications on other issues such as taxation. In the final report, the Task Force said that the gaming industry is regulated through rules under sections 79 and 69 IT act. As its report said, this could only happen after validating whether online gaming platforms, as simultaneous intermediaries and publishers, can be regulated via rules under section 79 of the IT Act. Another Digital India Act might resolve all the confusion as per the Task Force’s report.