Gambling vs. Video Games: Indian Developers Fight for Distinction – Over the past several years, the number of gambling and sports fantasy apps has exploded in India. Investors are constantly searching for the next big sports betting app or online poker software because the nation is home to one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world, the Indian Premier League, and because affordable cellphones are widely available. It has even gotten to the point where Indian celebrities are promoting them.
These real money apps are extremely popular in the nation, yet they have negative social implications. It’s not unusual to hear a news story about someone taking their own life after losing everything in gaming or betting. Additionally, because investors favour the quick profits that real money apps bring, developers who really make video games have a difficult time attracting investors. Infuriatingly, the phrase “online gaming” has been appropriated by these gambling and betting apps, who blatantly utilise it in all of their promotional materials.
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The good news is that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) of the Indian government has finally decided to implement regulations for these real money apps. However, the draught reveals that these regulations are all-encompassing, grouping gambling and actual gaming together – possibly because of the nomenclature used in the promotional content. Naturally concerned by this, more than 40 Indian video game and esports companies have asked the government to clearly distinguish between the two in terms of regulation.
The coalition of video game companies, led by Chennai-based Outlier Games, is looking for a stakeholder meeting with MEITY in order to share its insights, draw a distinction between online gaming and gambling, and contribute to the creation of regulations that are appropriate for the sector in India.
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According to a press release from SuperGaming and Outlier Games, “the current draught notification incorporates “video games” and “online games played for stakes” under the same regulatory purview.” “This is a step that runs the risk of undermining the comprehensive and outstanding vision and objectives outlined by the Government initiatives at the Central and State level.”
“This distinction is so stark, that no country in the world includes revenues from the “real money games played for stakes” industry while preparing market research reports and analysing data points such as revenue generation, taxes, user base etc.” explains the press release, in a bid to demonstrate the difference between the two. Globally the video game and esports industry is valued at 184 billion USD in 2022 and excludes revenue from RMG & Fantasy Sports games played for stakes.”
The MEITY ministry has outlawed 117 other Chinese mobile applications in addition to PUBG. Therefore, it is evidently not opposed to making broad decisions that would have an entirely different impact on video game developers than they would have on real money games. The consortium of game developers most likely approached the ministry with this in mind.
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“As India’s gamers grow in numbers and evolve in terms of preference, it’s crucial that the rules evolve as well,” says Roby John, CEO and co-founder of SuperGaming. “We hope to see a clear regulatory distinction between video games and real money gaming to ensure that best in class protections exist for the half a billion or so gamers in India.”
The coalition wants to present three main recommendations: a framework to address video game addiction, exposure to in-game purchases, and online harm; a clear regulatory distinction between “video games” and “online games that are played for stakes”; and the creation of an India-focused rating mechanism similar to the ESRB.
Gambling vs. Video Games FAQS
Q: How has the number of gambling and sports fantasy apps in India changed in recent years?
A: The number of gambling and sports fantasy apps in India has skyrocketed over the past few years.
Q: What are some of the negative effects of this increase in real money apps in India?
A: The negative effects of this increase include people committing suicide because they lost everything on betting or gambling, and video game developers having difficulty getting investors due to the preference for quick returns from real money apps.
Q: What is the Indian government's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) doing to regulate these real money apps?
A: MEITY has decided to put regulations in place for these real money apps, but the draft regulations clump gambling and actual gaming together, which has caused alarm among Indian video game and esports companies.
Q: What is the coalition of video game companies seeking from MEITY?
A: The coalition is seeking a stakeholder meeting with MEITY in order to share insights, create a clear distinction between online gaming and gambling, and help form relevant regulations for the industry in India.
Q: What are the coalition's primary recommendations for MEITY?
A: The coalition’s primary recommendations include a clear regulatory distinction between “video games” and “online games that are played for stakes”, the formation of an India-centric rating mechanism, and a framework to deal with video game addiction, exposure to in-game purchases, and online harm.
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