The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Thursday said that the purpose of introducing the new online gaming rules are to control the unabated and unwarranted negative impact of online gaming activities on users, especially children and other vulnerable sections of society.

The government in a notification on April 6, 2023, introduced various checks and balances through relevant amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The amendments lay out a comprehensive framework for the online gaming ecosystem. The new rules also deal with fact-checking related to online content pertaining to the government.

According to the government, new rules will ensure that online games or sites that involve wagering will be banned completely including advertising or any time of presence.

"The aim of these amendments is to enforce greater due diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries in respect of online games & fake or false misleading information related to Government business," the government said.

The government has invited consultations with various industry stakeholders regarding the new rules.

Online gaming picked up pace in the country during the two years of covid-19 pandemic. According to experts, the country’s online gaming industry is expected to reach $8.6 billion by 2027, propelled by the increase in smartphone usage and 5G adoption.

New online gaming rules

According to the government, the new rules cast an obligation on intermediaries, including social media platforms and app stores, to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any online game that causes user harm or which has not been verified as a permissible online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body (SRB) designated by the government.

The rules disallow intermediaries to host or display any advertisement or surrogate advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game. This will help to address the growing menace of online ads of illegal betting and gambling operations targeting Indian users, the government said.

The rules will ensure that online games or sites that involve wagering will be banned completely including advertising or any time of presence. For this, the rules introduce the concept of a ‘permissible online game.”

The new rules allow the government to control any non-real money online game that could have a harmful impact on Digital Nagriks.

"It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision and goal that young Indians get every opportunity possible to create startups and innovate for the world. Online gaming is certainly a huge opportunity for India and Young Indians. We see the Indian online gaming ecosystem to expand and grow into a multi-billion dollar industry and be an important catalyst to India’s One trillion-dollar Digital economy goal by 2025-26, with very clear restrictions on online wagering and betting," said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of Electronics and IT earlier.

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