Varsha worked as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs before switching to journalism. She started off at Business India and later moved to Forbes India where she writes across industries and companies but has a bias towards startups, technology and the FMCG sector. She was a national level athlete and now enjoys running half marathons.
In the first week of January, the central Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) released draft rules for online gaming in India. A self-regulatory body, mandatory know-your-customer (KYC) norms for verification and a grievance redressal mechanism are among the proposed rules.
In a press briefing, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for MeitY, said online gaming is “a very important piece of the startup ecosystem and a part of the goal of the one-trillion dollar economy”. India is home to a thriving gaming market: With 900 gaming companies and 500 million gamers, the market is projected to be worth $8.6 billion by 2027, up from $2.6 billion in 2022, according to gaming and interactive media fund Lumikai. The growing popularity of online gaming, especially during the Covid-19 years, spawned three unicorns last year—Dream11, MPL and Games24x7.
But knee-jerk blanket bans by states have caused tremendous uncertainty. Tamil Nadu, for example, banned online games like rummy and poker, citing them as games of chance where winning depends principally on luck. However, the Madras High Court struck down the law, ruling that they are indeed games of skill, according to the Supreme Court—where winning depends on a gamer’s superior knowledge and experience—and can’t be banned. The state government has subsequently appealed to the apex court against the high court’s decision.
The central framework laid out by MeitY should end such state-wise regulatory fragmentation, bring stability and spur growth. “We have kept it simple. Every startup, innovation (sic) has a steady, precise roadmap that he can follow. We have principally laid out the go and no-go areas for these platforms… our main intention is to expand the online gaming industry without compromising on our goals of openness, safety, trust and accountability, and I think these rules do it,” said Chandrasekhar.
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