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As you are aware that we are going though deadly pandemic COVID-19 period. We have suffered a lot in previous two years , there was loss of life, loss of business, lockdown and much more. The whole world was locked down for safety of life and property of people. The schools, collages, educational institutions etc. have been closed and activities of imparting education has been shifted from off line to on line platform. The whole world has locked into their homes and communicating through electronics means. There were no outdoor activities and hence electronic media /internet become the main source of entertainment to the people. The gaming companies take this opportunities hand to hand and introduced a lot of games for entertainment of people. These games are available for all age of persons ,some of games are for kids ,adolescence and for adults.

There was an accretion of Over the Top (OTT) Channels but what has gone unnoticeable is the rise of players playing online games. The Online gaming industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last decade in India where Gen Z and millennials have played games like Catan, Monopoly, Ludo, Tambola through online applications which has impaired normal socialisation, physical and mental harm and even monetary loss. Children played these games due to peer pressure and sometimes spend money to acquire the “assets” inside the game. This has led to wastage of national resources and also wastage of productive time by the players.

According to the statistics provided in the Statement of Objects and Reasons in the proposed Bill which has been introduced to regulate Online Gaming in India , India has around 420 million active online gamers and the industry is slated to grow to $5 billion by 2025 .

The Government of India , considering the matter and to save youth and innocent persons introduced the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on 1st April,2022. The Bill aims to maintain integrity in online gaming and introducing a regulatory regime for online gaming.

The Bill has proposed to establish an Online Gaming Commission (under Clause 3 of the Bill) which is to be constituted by the Central Government. The gaming operators will be required to obtain a license from the Gaming Commission.

The Commission shall have the following functions:-

  • To oversight the functioning of online gaming server.
  • To make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Online Gaming.
  • To suggest appropriate measures to control or curb illegal Online Gaming.
  • To grant, suspend and revoke licenses for online gaming websites and to determine fee for license applications and license renewals of such websites.

IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS

  • Section 2(d) defines “licensee” which means any person who has been granted a license to install and operate Online Gaming Server, and any other activity to facilitate Online Gaming.
  • Section 2(e) “Online Gaming” means games played on any electronics device including Personal Computers, Mobile Phones, Tablets and other devices.
  • Section 2(f) “Online Gaming Server” means any main frame computer or set of computers, installed or maintained by the Licensee, that accepts, processes, stores and validates transactions arising out of Online Gaming, and which manages, monitors and controls the entire system of Online Gaming.
  • Section 2(g) “Online Gaming Website” means the internet domain registration or URL address of the Licensee through which Online Sports Gaming is conducted.
  • Section 2(h) “player” means a participant of any online game as certified by the Commission.

SALIENT FEATURES OF BILL

REGULATION 3- CONSTITUTION OF COMMISSION

(1) The Central Government shall constitute a Commission, to be known as the Online Gaming Commission, to exercise the powers conferred upon, and to perform the functions assigned to it, under this Act.

(2) The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and five members to be nominated by the Central Government, with at least one expert from the field of law, one expert from the field of cyber technology and one person with experience in law enforcement.

REGULATION 4-DUTIES OF COMMISSION

The Commission shall–

(a) oversight the functioning of Online Gaming Websites;

(b) make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Online Gaming;

(c) suggest appropriate measures to control or curb illegal Online Gaming;

(d) grant, suspend and revoke licenses for online gaming websites and to determine fee for license applications and license renewals of such websites; and

(e) any other matter referred to it by the Central Government.

REGULAITON 5- REGULATION OF ONLINE GAMING

(1) No person shall engage in Online Gaming except through an Online Gaming Website.

(2) No person shall operate an Online Gaming Server or an Online Gaming Website without a license granted under this Act.

(3) Any person who operates an Online Gaming Server or an Online Gaming Website without a license, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and with such fine as may be prescribed.

REGULAITON 6-LICENSE FOR ONLINE GAMING SERVER

(1) Any person desiring to obtain a license shall make an application in writing to the Commission in such form and manner, as may be prescribed.

(2) On receipt of the application, the Commission may, after making such inquiry as it considers necessary, by order in writing, either grant the License or refuse to grant the License, assigning reasons for its decision.

REGULATION 7- CANCELLING OR SURRENDER OF THE LICENSE

(1) A license, unless it is cancelled or surrendered, shall remain in force for such period, not exceeding six years, as may be specified in it.

(2) A licensee may surrender the license through a notice in writing to the Commission. (3) The cancellation, surrender, or expiry of a License shall not affect any liability for anything done or omitted to be done before the date on which it ceases to have effect.

REGULATION 8- FEE FOR LICENSE

An applicant for the license shall pay to the Commission such amount as may be prescribed as application fee for grant of the license.

REGULAITON 9- The license issued shall not be transferable.

REGULATION 10- RENEWAL OF LICENSE

The Commission may, on application made to it, renew the license granted under this Act, on payment of fee prescribed for renewal of a License or refuse to renew any such license after assigning the reasons for refusal in writing.

REGULATION 11- SUSPENSION OR CANCELLATION OF LICENSE

(1) The Commission may, at any time, after giving the licensee a reasonable opportunity of being heard, suspend or cancel the license on any of the following grounds, namely:

(i) that there has been a breach of any of the conditions subject to which the license was granted.

(ii) that the licensee has contravened any of the provisions of this Act or rules made thereunder.

(2) Whenever a license is suspended or cancelled, the Commission shall record the reasons for such suspension or cancellation and furnish a copy thereof to the person whose license has been cancelled or suspended.

(3) If the licensee is found to have breached any of the conditions of the license, then the licensee shall be punished with such fine as may be prescribed.

REGULATION 12- MAINTENANCE OF ACCOUNTS RELATING TO ONLINE GAMING BY THE LICENSEE

The licensee shall maintain accounts relating to Online Gaming in such form and manner, as may be prescribed and submit it to the Commission.

REGULATION 13- PUNISHMENT OF BREACH OF CONDITIONS OF LICENSEE BY PLAYERS

(1) If any person, other than the licensee while engaging in Online gaming through Online Gaming Website, commits a breach of any of the conditions of the License as exhibited or of the rules to be observed in playing such games, such person shall be punished with such fine as may be prescribed.

(2) The Licensee shall exhibit on the approved website, the conditions subject to which the License was granted, and all rules governing the conduct of Online Gaming.

REGULATION 14- REQUEST BY COMMISSION FOR INVESTIGATION

(1) The Commission may request the police to investigate any acts of violations of the sections under this Chapter.

(2) It shall be lawful for any police officer, not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, to search premises and to seize materials in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022

REGULATION 15- OFFENCES TO BE CONIZABLE AND BAILABLE

All offences under this chapter shall be cognizable and bailable.

REGULATION 16- FDI AND TECHNOLOGY COLLABORATION

The Central Government may, by notification, permit Foreign Direct Investment including technological collaboration, in Online Gaming, subject to any conditions or restrictions as may be prescribed.

REGULAITON 17- EXCLUSION The provisions of this Act shall not apply to a person providing backend services in India, including hosting and maintenance services, for any international gaming website based outside India.

REGULATION 19- ACT TO HAVE OVERRIDING EFFECT The provisions of this Act, shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force and, in case of any inconsistency, the provisions of this Act shall have effect to the extent of such inconsistency.

CONCLUSION: we are the youngest country of this world and our future is very bright. We are going to become world guru. The coming decade is the decade of India. India will lead the world in all fields and hence this become true only when our youth will be directed towards nation building. The addiction of online games among youth is spreading like pandemic. There are various online games available ,which are sharing products full of violence, sex and other incriminating materials. Some games are imparting materials of sins such as Rummy Circle and others. These games lures our youths with various types of prises and freebies. There are some incidents available in which teenager have killed their friends , parents for not allowing for playing games. The activities of child will also change due to playing these games. They are addicted to be alone and enjoy only company of their gadgets , they generally cut themselves from the society. This is a bad and serious scenario of society in which we live. So it is important to have a legislation which controls OTT and Online Gaming platform. However, the Bill may be highly regressive as it fails to draw a distinction between casual gaming and real money gaming platforms. The need of the hour is to have a regulatory framework for real money gaming and not casual gaming, which is already governed by various other legislations. Further, the Bill does not draw from the licensing regime currently in place for real money games in certain laws passed by a few North-Eastern states of India.

A robust regulatory and legal environment, devoid of uncertainties is the need of the hour for this sunrise industry to achieve its true potential and ensure that the business can scale quickly.

DISCLAIMER the article presented here is only for sharing information and knowledge with readers. The views expressed are personal and should not be taken as professional advice. In case of necessity do consult with professionals for more understanding and clarity on subject matter.

Author Bio

A Qualified Company Secretary, LLB , AIII , Bsc( Maths) BHU, Certification in Insurance Risk Management ( ICSI-III) have completed Limited Insolvency Examination and having more than 20 years of experience in the field of Secretarial Practice, Project Finance, Direct Taxes ,GST, Accounts & F View Full Profile

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