On April 1, 2022, the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022 was introduced to the Lok Sabha. It is a private members’ bill by members of the Lok Sabha and the first of its kind to be introduced in the House.
The aim of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022 is to provide a regulatory framework for the Indian online gaming industry. Online gaming, as we all know, is on the rise. India is one of the biggest online gaming markets in the world and has the potential to be the single biggest market. Against this backdrop, it is a tough call for the House to decide how online sports, including online casinos, will be regulated in India.
The context of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022
The bill was introduced to the Lok Sabha towards the beginning of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL is not only the biggest cricket tournament in the world but also one of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world in terms of revenue and viewership.
Given the stellar success of the IPL, more and more people are now interested in cricket. This makes it the perfect market for fantasy gaming platforms to enter. Once fantasy cricket games entered the market, they became hugely successful. Some of these games went on to become official sponsors in the IPL.
At such a time, the government has to make a call regarding the legality of online sports, especially fantasy sports. While these games are legal in India, there was no clear regulatory framework. With the introduction of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022, we have a framework for the first time in India. Let’s find out more about what it says.
Features of the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022
The main purpose of the bill is to establish a watchdog for the online gaming industry. It gives the government the power to grant and reject licenses to any online gaming company operating in the country. The reason behind establishing a watchdog body for the online gaming space is to stop illegal gaming. There are various online casinos and betting platforms that run in India without any legal licenses. With the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022, the government has the power to oversee the activities of online gaming websites and platforms.
Although many people acknowledge the necessity of such a bill, there is a clear discord between its aim and its methods. The fundamental flaw in the bill, according to critics, is the lack of distinction between games with a stake and games without a stake. Online casinos, for example, involve real money and stakes. This is not the case for an online battle royale game, for example. By not having this distinction, there can be many disputes regarding the law.
How the bill plays out in the Lok Sabha is still a matter of speculation. From a larger perspective, it should not have any adverse effects on the Indian online gaming market.