‘Government intervention will give regulation of online gaming a lot more teeth’

Published - September 05, 2023 01:36 am IST - KOCHI

E-Gaming Federation secretary Malay Kumar Shukla 

E-Gaming Federation secretary Malay Kumar Shukla 

The E-Gaming Federation (EGF), a not-for-profit organisation to protect consumer interest and self-regulate the Indian gaming sector, has welcomed the recent guidelines proposed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) for regulation of the industry.

The Union government had proposed steps to regulate online gaming by way of amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules.

“We welcome the amendment since this is exactly what the EGF has been trying to do for the last six to seven years. It proposes a self-regulatory authority, which will be independent of the gaming industry. A very significant proposal is the pre-approval of games through a process of testing and checking as may be necessary,” EGF secretary Malay Kumar Shukla told The Hindu on the sidelines of a function here on Monday.

Another focal area of the amendment is to prevent user harm. Earlier the industry was doing it on its own. The system that MEITy proposes would be strong enough to address the problem (of user harm) to a great extent, he said.

The biggest advantage of pre-approving games permissible in India is that it would rein in any illegal offshore gaming operations. Only on registration can the operators receive support from the entire ecosystem of payments and advertisements.

“Pre-approval of games is a very important since no operator who does not wish to test their games or is not confident about the games being permissible in India will involve in wagering on an outcome, which is chance-based. The government stepping in will give the regulation regime a lot of teeth,” said Mr. Shukla.

The mechanism under the MEITy would be able to address challenges posed by gaming and provide solutions. Issues such as user protection and social impact would be taken care of within the broad framework of preventing user harm.

On the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on gaming industry, Mr. Shukla said the industry would have to work with it.

“What is important is that the platform needs to be provided with a reliable environment where players can come in and compete based on their skills. Al will be helpful in marketing new games and in various other aspects such as understanding user behaviour that will held help to enhance the industry, but, of course, subject to MEITy approval. If there is any abuse of technology then law can be enforced to take corrective action,” said Mr. Shukla.

At present, the country has around 400 gaming companies and start-ups. The industry was initially predicted to touch ₹5 billion by 2025 though that estimate was now likely to vary with the proposed changes in the GST regime.

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