MeitY Notified as Nodal Agency for Online Gaming

The Government of India has appointed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the nodal authority for online gaming through a gazette notification dated December 23, 2022. The Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, was amended for the 370th time to implement this change, effective on the notification date.

In September last year, the Central Government panel appointed to draft regulations for the country’s online gaming sector recommended appointing the IT ministry as the central ministry for online gaming, except for e-sports and games of chance. The reallocation was necessitated by the surge of regulatory issues in the industry and is expected to bring clarity and certainty to the industry’s stakeholders. Further, the growth of sectors allied with online gaming is envisaged, such as Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC).

The vices of online gaming, as well as inconsistencies in state laws, have long been a source of concern, with states such as Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Assam outlawing all forms of real money online games; Karnataka outlawing and then legalizing online gambling; and Tamil Nadu outlawing online gambling entirely.  

Courts have also taken notice of the adverse effects of online games, with the Madras High Court taking suo moto cognizance of violent online games, the apex court issuing notices to gaming industry bodies and multiple other actions pertaining to the sector being taken up by numerous forums.

In addition, varied authorities have been issuing advisories on several other regulatory aspects of the domain, such as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) issuing an advisory prohibiting advertisements for online betting platforms and CBDT directing online gamers to file taxes.