India proposes self-regulatory bodies for online gaming companies

India proposes self-regulatory bodies for online gaming companies
The words “India online gaming regulations” are displayed in front of an Indian flag in this Illustration taken September 14, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Munsif Vengattil and Shivam Patel

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has proposed a body for the online gaming industry to regulate itself as concerns rise over the addictiveness of games and as patchy state laws disrupt business, in draft amendments to its information technology rules published on Monday.

The proposal comes after a government panel recommended new rules to regulate a sector estimated to reach $7 billion by 2026, according to consultancy Redseer.

U.S. investment firms Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital have in recent years backed Indian startups Dream11 and Mobile Premier League, popular for its fantasy cricket.

The calls for oversight of the industry comes amid growing fears that the proliferation of such games, particularly among young people, had led to addiction and financial losses, with some reported cases of suicide.

Gaming companies would require government approval to register a self-regulation body, which would include a member nominated by the government – having background in public policy, public administration, law enforcement or public finance – and a member from the field of psychology, medicine or consumer education.

“We believe this is a great first step for comprehensive regulation for online gaming and will hopefully reduce the state-wise regulatory fragmentation that was a big challenge for the industry,” Roland Landers, the CEO of All India Gaming Federation, said.

The draft amendments also propose that companies appoint a chief compliance officer to ensure conformity with law and verify user identity before an online account is created for them to play the games.