Online Gaming Community Asks for Regulation Standards

Indian gaming companies and developers continue fighting the social stigma of online gambling and real money apps. Innovative startups call for clear regulation to create a healthy business climate.

Courts Facing Legal Issue of Chance vs Skill Games

Not every game app is a real money app. And despite the possibility of in-app purchases and social gaming competitions, most of India’s favourite online games would love to be clearly set apart from old-fashioned gambling – at least as defined in the country’s prohibition laws.

Recently, game development companies across India have been getting into legal trouble because their game apps seem misleading to some consumers. Defamation notices – threatening criminal and civil action – were sent after some industry experts tried to speak out about the difference between most online video games and a real money app. Others were called upon to condemn harmful and addictive online behaviour.

The fact remains that the difference between gaming apps and gambling in India remains legally unclear. Outdated distinctions between games of skill and games of chance are at the root of the problem, despite the fact that several State High Courts have urged legislators to provide some standards for the segment. Overall uncertainty inevitably leaves consumers exposed. Crucially, in the long run it also damages the business performance of Indian game developers in a sector which experiences unprecedented global growth.  In the meanwhile off-share casino such as PureWin are continuing to operate and flourish.  

Gaming Industry Leaders Ask for Regulation

The reason why most video game developers in India have been worried persists: a blanket ban on gambling in most states leaves the door open for skill games to operate legally. Even when dynamic digital products tend to cross over genres, software developers and gaming platforms would like to see some sort of national framework for the regulation of the sector.

Popular top Indian new game apps such as FAUG (Fearless and United – Guards) face the same problem as foreign online gaming giants EA Sports – action games, fantasy sports, social gaming and all gambling apps fall in the same category. At least according to collective desi imagination, causing the cited legal challenges.

At a time when many Indian startups are trying to replace banned Chinese apps and other offshore favourites, the last thing that the IT ecosystem needs is an uncertain business climate. Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai need to be recognised in their efforts to provide quality and competitive products in a legal and transparent business. These calls go beyond the interests of the desi gaming community to get “gambling under strict government regulation and oversight.”

Industry bodies like the All India Gaming Federation and gaming studio associations have all been forced to hold important events online for the past year, with lockdowns and physical distancing requirements likely to keep them in virtual contact. The topic which keeps coming up and dominates discussions, however, remains the legal uncertainty and lack of regulation in the sector. While most foreign investors appreciate the growth of India’s online gaming sector, local companies cannot afford to miss important opportunities while defending the integrity of their work.

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