Report: GoM to meet on December 15 over regulation of online gaming

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On December 15, Group of Ministers (GoM) will reportedly gather for the meeting regarding the regulation of online gaming. This will be the first-ever official meeting on the concerned matter.

One of the key issues to be addressed in the meeting will be effective tax policy for online gaming. This will be done with the aim of minimizing illegal gambling or betting, especially from offshore operators.

“Certain government officials felt that the gaming rules, introduced by MeitY (ministry of electronics and information technology) lacked the legal teeth to ensure enforcement, especially in cases where the gaming companies operate from outside India,” an official told The Economic Times.

In previous unofficial meetings, the GoM have also discussed the issue of money laundering. “The illegalities uncovered so far in the Mahadev betting app will not be an isolated case. Some of the ministries participating in the GoM raised this issue and wanted it to be one of the focal points of what gaming rules should be able to enforce in future,” the official added.

Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS Electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Media and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, are all anticipated to be at the planned meet.

The new gaming regulations were termed in the new amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Rules of 2021. The idea of setting up self-regulatory bodies (SRB) was also proposed during the same amendment.

Online gaming SRB formation still pending

Self-regulatory bodies are dubbed as independent bodies composed of experts who will regulate online gaming. They will also have the authority to decide permissible and non-permissible activities in the online gaming sector.

As of now, bodies like All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), eGamers and Players Welfare Association (EPWA) are among the bodies who have applied to form SRBs. Additionally, E-gaming Federation (EGF) and FIFS have also filed a joint application.

However, the recent increase in GST has severely affected the online gaming industry. While the government calls it fair, industry stakeholders and experts believe that the central government might have overdone it.

Tech and gaming lawyer Jay Sayta said, “Since gambling and betting, including online gaming, is a state subject, the rules could not have usurped the powers of state legislations.”

“Additionally, the outsourcing of regulatory powers to govern the industry to private self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) funded by the industry itself had also raised concerns in several quarters,” Sayta added.