In January 2023, a draft of regulations was handed through the Indian Government that would put in place several strict rules around online gaming. Now, those rules have been made official, and going forward, any ‘online game’ that features wagering in any capacity is banned in India. Reportedly, the goal of this effort is to ‘enforce greater due diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries in respect of online games.’
As a key part of the development of these rules, a series of self-regulatory organisations have been established. It’s the goal of these ‘SROs’ to determine whether an online game is ‘permissible’, and it’ll essentially be marked as permissible if it ‘does not involve wagering on any outcome.’ These new rules effectively lock down any games that involve betting and wagering.
‘A Watershed Moment for the Industry’
It’s a simple enough concept – if a game with online capabilities features wagering, it’s going to be banned in India. There were several rules included in the new legislation, confirmed by the Minister of State of IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar:
- Games involving real money won’t be allowed to facilitate wagering.
- Multiple SROs will have the right to scrutinise online gaming apps and decide if their operations are permissible or not.
- If a user deposits a particular amount of money in the game with the expectation of walking away with a reward, that game is no longer permissible in India.
This change will affect different games in different ways. For instance, it’s likely to have a minimal impact on fantasy sports simply because they’re considered to be games of skill and not games of chance, and they’re typically free-to-play and don’t involve the wagering of real money. However, virtual sports, which are quite similar but feature direct betting on markets that require the input of real-world sums of money, are certainly banned under the new rules.
In a statement, the CEO and Co-Founder of MPL, Sai Srinivas, spoke highly of the new rules:
‘The announcement of new rules by MeitY for online real money games is a positive tuirning point for our industry. The clear definition of real-money and permissible games will be crucial in catalysing the growth of legitimate industry players.’
As some nations, such as the United States, continue to open their doors in more ways to betting practices, it is disheartening to see some countries totally close down some betting opportunities for punters.