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Online Gaming Laws: A Legal Game of Hide And Seek Gaming
Donna Amo
Posted on 23 Sep, 2021
By Donna Amo
On 23 Sep, 2021
By Donna Amo
On 23 Sep, 2021

Online Gaming Laws: A Legal Game of Hide And Seek

A lot has been talked about when it comes to having stringent laws on gambling and betting, but having one wholesome regulatory framework made for gaming isn’t something that has been actively considered in India. One of the significant reasons why as soon as an online game gets its share of popularity among the masses, a call for regularising, censoring and monitoring and, in extreme cases, ban, get filed in Indian courts. 

While we deal with laws that regularise content and IP violations, there is no appropriate law in place to curb the nature of addiction. The biggest examples were the ban of PUBG under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the cry to ban Pokemon Go. In an article ‘Online Gaming, Gaming Laws & Legal Puzzles In India‘ by CS S. Ravishankar Company Secretary in Practice, Partner – ASR & CO, he happens to give a quick walkthrough of the uproar that Pokemon Go, which was not even officially launched in India, caused. He quickly detailed the consequences that followed due to the absence of regulations on online gaming. Owing to the download of unauthorised versions of the app, some of these apps are not bound by the law! 

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In fact, unlike a temporary suspension of the game’s servers or a restriction of access to it, the ban does little to truly alleviate the problem. On the contrary, the negative attention that PUBG receives is simply increasing its appeal and causing more curiosity about what makes it so offensive. Instead of turning to drastic measures, proper regulatory standards must be investigated and implemented.

All about online gaming

Online gaming is a burgeoning industry in India. From real money skill games like poker and rummy to esports, the entire industry has been seeing a growth trajectory unlike any other. By 2023, online real money gamers are expected to grow from 80 million to 150 million (Business Insider). The constant growth of the said numbers only indicates vast potential within the Indian online gaming industry that is waiting (for a long while) to be tapped into. 

When talking about the legality of online gaming in India, it should be noted that most of the discussion centres around real money games. Other verticals that fall under online gaming, such as esports, video games, etc., are not included while discussing online gaming in India. Real money gaming (RMG), as defined by Law Insider, is ‘the offering, distribution, advertising, promotion and sale of any type of game, e.g., casino, bingo, poker, sports or sporting events, skill games, etc. played through online media in which real money is wagered on the outcome of the game.’

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For this piece, we’ll focus on the legality of online real money games in India while comparing it to countries like the UK, US and China. In doing so, we are trying to address the elephant in the room – lack of clarity over the legal stand of India’s gaming industry. And how having a legal and regulated RMG/skill gaming framework will benefit the economy and be a source of income to many people. 

To read the full article, head to the September 2021 E-magazine edition of Gutshot Magazine. For more interesting articles, keep reading Gutshot Magazine. If you’re on social media, be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Telegram.

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