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Previously this month, we reported on the E-Gaming Federation (EGF)’s plans to set up a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) by the end of May, representing the interests of online gaming brands. Recent developments indicate that if the gaming industry fails to form an SRO by the established deadline of July 6, the Union government is prepared to intervene and establish its own SRO.
The purpose of this government-initiated SRO would be to manage administrative responsibilities and implement the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which MeitY notified on April 6.
Industry entities seem to be facing challenges in arriving at a consensus on the organizational constitution, the structure of the SRO, and the appointment of its member representatives.
An insider source confided to Economic Times, stating, “There are clear disparities among AIGF (All India Gaming Federation), EGF (e-Gaming Federation) and IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India), mainly revolving around our respective perspectives and ethical interpretations of how gaming SROs should operate.”
The source elaborated, “These SROs will possess extensive powers. They could, for instance, withdraw the certification of a gaming intermediary at any point, even if it was previously granted permission to operate within India. Additionally, these SROs will have the ability to enact other punitive measures if necessary.”
Why the Delay?
Gaming Associations, such as the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), had earlier stated their collaborative work with industry counterparts to create an IT Rules-compliant SRO.
AIGF CEO Roland Landers stated, “Any SRBs being formed will be through a comprehensive framework for verifying games and governing online gaming intermediaries.”
FIFS General Director Joy Bhattacharjya said, “We are currently working with industry partners to formulate an SRB in line with the requirements under the IT Rules. We are hoping to apply to MeitY for recognition of this SRB soon.”
However, the Union Ministry of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reportedly prefers an independent structure for SROs, over the formation by existing gaming and industry bodies.
An Economic Times report quoted a ministry official who wished to remain anonymous, “The structure we are looking at is that it is an existing organization that does public policy, and they come up with a proposal that they co-opt a gamer, a teacher, a psychiatrist, and others. The intent, however, should be absolutely clear that they should not be captured by anybody.”
In 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was designated the primary authority overseeing India’s burgeoning online gaming industry. The ministry launched the first draft of online gaming regulations in January 2023, then solicited feedback from relevant stakeholders, including gamers, industry professionals, educators, legal experts, industry associations, and parents.
By March, MeitY disclosed its approach to introducing and enforcing tiered Know Your Customer norms for online gaming platforms. Upon a rigorous examination of these rules, the ministry officially notified the final set of regulations on April 6.
Under this mandate, the Self Regulatory Organization (SRO) board is required to be composed of online gaming industry stakeholders, educators, child protection advocates, law enforcement officials, psychology specialists, and a government representative.
EGF Secretary Malay Kumar Shukla had previously indicated that the process of setting up the SROs and appointing board members would take about four to six weeks, and this process is currently underway.
The establishment of an SRO signifies a pivotal step towards structured regulation of India’s online gaming sector. MeitY’s recent declarations highlight its commitment to preventing any regulatory setbacks in this rapidly evolving industry.
This is a developing story. Keep following PokerGuru for the latest updates!
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