MeitY calls another consultation on online gaming policy on Tuesday

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has called for another round of public consultation on online gaming rules on January 17. All major industry bodies, policy advocacy groups and industry stakeholders will deliberate on the recently released policy, sources said.

The ministry earlier this month released draft amendments to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, in relation to online gaming. The draft rules propose a self-regulatory body to certify what is permitted as an ‘online game’ in India. They also prescribe a registration mark on all online games registered by the SRO (self-regulatory body).

Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the minister of state for electronics and information technology, on January 11 held a meeting with children, parents, teachers, Esports athletes, gamers, and safety and trust organisations on the proposed rules on online gaming at the Electronics Niketan, MeitY’s office here. The clarity in the definition of an online game, implementation of KYC norms, and child safety were among the main concerns raised during the meeting.

The next round of deliberations is expected to include around 80-100 people from industry bodies, policy advocacy groups and other representatives from the online gaming industry in the country, sources said. January 17 is also the last date for submitting feedback on the policy through the website of MyGov.

The rules define an online game as any game that is offered on the Internet and is accessible by a user through a computer resource if he makes a deposit with the expectation of earning winnings. Once the policy is enacted, the gaming platforms will be required to observe due diligence under the rules, including “reasonable efforts” to cause its users not to host, display, upload, publish, transmit or share an online game not in conformity with Indian law, including any law on gambling or betting.

The online gaming intermediaries also need to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, who is a resident of India. The compliance officer will be responsible for compliance with the rules and coordination at all times with law enforcement agencies. They are also required to appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance with their orders.

During independent discussions held by some industry organisations, the gaming companies had demanded a relaxation for smaller intermediaries from the requirement of appointing compliance officers. They had also expressed reservations about the independence of self-regulatory organisations to be formed to provide registrations to all online games.

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