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"Exploring the Legal Landscape: The Current State of Online Gaming Law in India"

Nidhi Rathore,

Vidyasthali law college

CURRENT STATUS OF ONLINE GAMING LAW IN INDIA

ABSTRACT

The outlook of the online gaming law in India has been dynamic which have been marked due to the lack of comprehensive central or nationwide legislation. With the evolvement of the new games in the market the online gaming law is also evolving but at the slower rate.

This article provides a synopsis regarding the existing regulatory framework with highlighting the divergent approaches adopted by the various states. It tries to serve as a guide for understanding the complex and evolving legal development in India.

INTRODUCTION

In todays scenario gaming has became an integral part of our life. In earlier times it was considered as a source of leisure or time pass but as we are developing and moving towards the new cohort gaming has been emerged as a source of income or profession. And in the gaming sector online gaming has become one of the prominent game thus, with the increase in the players in introduction of the online gaming law and amendment in existing laws become crucial in India[1]. Some types of games which are legal in India are skill games, fantasy games, social gaming while some which are illegal are games of chance, lottery, sports betting etc.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF ONLINE GAMING LAWS

Laws relating to gaming basically are the huddle of rules and  regulations that deals with the various aspects of gambling and gaming activities within the country. The legislative framework are basically a blend of both central and state laws and in all the laws enforced the Public Gambling Act 1867 being the oldest and primary laws made for British India, but with the change in circumstances and scenario these laws are outdated and not being able to deal with modern complexities of gaming like online gaming and E-Sports[2].

The three chief gaming laws in India are[3]:

The Public Gambling Act of 1867: It is a union law that prohibit public gambling but it does not explicitly mention online gambling.

The Information Technology Act 2000: It deals with the crimes associate with computers which is basically online gaming activities in India.

The Prize Competition Act 1955: It prohibits the prize competition where earning are more than Rs 1000

DEVELOPMENTS IN ONLINE GAMING LAWS

The old acts which were enacted during colonial rule i.e. the Public Gambling act of 1867, The Information Technology Act 2000 and The Price Competition Act 1955 are unable to cope up with the modern dynamic nature and new emerging online gaming in the environment like E-Sports etc.This has eventually leads to the states initiation to pass their own laws relating to the gaming like Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, Punjab Public Gambling Act 1867, Tamil Nadu City Police Gaming Rules 1949, the Pondicherry Gaming Act 1965 etc.

RECENT PROPOSED AMENDMENTS RELATING TO ONLINE GAMING LAWS

Last year in April 2023, the Ministry of Electronics and Information  Technology after looking and considering various loopholes in state laws on online gaming laws or unable to amuse the various new types of cases under online gaming leads to the announcement of new regulations to protect the interest of online gamers and protect online gamers  from addiction and harmful content[4]. Also these regulations will act as the central authority to govern the whole gaming industry in India but the state laws will be enforced continuously.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics code) Rules, 2021 were also amended to include the regulation relating to the online games yet it mainly look into online real money games and the free game of skills, which covers fantasy sports contest, E-sports, card games etc.

In addition to the above amendments there are some changes in the India gaming laws as it is also complex and evolving. Some of the key changes in the tax laws are:

Central Goods and Services Tax(GST): now online gaming platforms are subjected to the GST. The GST will be levied on the gross amount of bets placed or set down by the players and the GST rates are  28%.

Income Tax: The income earned by the online gaming platforms are also subjected to the income tax.

State Laws:In addition to the GST, some states has levied taxes on the online games

CONCLUSION

The recent massive rise of the gaming industry basically online gaming platforms  and the lack of  a central law to regulate the online gaming industry have created hazard in the general public. In addition to this the evolving landscape of the digital market especially gaming industry leads to the pressing issue of market failure. The rush in online games it has increase economic growth but it has led to host of concerns like addiction, mental health issues, financial frauds and national security risk etc. By addressing this issue some states have enacted the laws but this has also created the issue because of the different interpretations on the same subject. Thus, now it is the high time to enact a union or central law by the union government to regulate the whole industry subjected to the gaming.

REFERENCES

[4] Online Gaming Rules, (May 2, 2024), https://innovateindia.mygov.in/online-gaming-rules/.

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