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The Online Gaming Intermediaries Regulations, 2023

The IT Rules introduced by the central government in the year 2021 have always been in limelight from the very day it was notified. There are many technicalities attached to the following rules. As we all know "Every Coin Has Two Sides" similarly there are many arguments for and against the IT Rules. It is considered as a positive step for regulating the intermediaries and digital media.

On the other hand, it is also considered as an excessive breach of power on the part of the government. In a recent notification on 6 April 2023 the Central Government amended the rules by including guidelines regulating online gaming. As we all know online gaming is one of the fastest growing tech-based industry in India.

It was very important to regulate this uncontrolled industry, hence the Central Government amended the rules specifying the regulatory guidelines, so that the gamers and game-developers can grow in a more secured environment. The rules have been amended after taking inputs from various departments as well as stakeholders. The Gaming Amendments are a progressive step which provides a regulatory baseline for an industry that has been uncontrolled and unregulated from a long time.

The Gaming Amendments, 2023

Wider Ambit

The definition of online games inserted by the amendment rules has a very wide ambit as it covers all the games that are offered on the internet. The entities which offer them are classified as Online Gaming Intermediaries("OGI"). The rules prominently apply to the Online Real Money Games which users can play after making deposits.

However, in case of games other than online real money games, if the Central Government thinks that it is in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, Security of State, Friendship with foreign States etc. it can direct the intermediary to make the necessary alterations without affecting the main point. Such OGI will need to comply with certain obligations of Real Money OGIs including appointment of a chief compliance officer, having a physical contact address in India, implementing grievance redressal mechanism, registration with the SRB and displaying visible mark of such registration and putting out detailed terms and conditions.

Verification Of ORMGs

It is mandatory for the Online Real Money Games to be verified by the SRBs in order to operate within the territory of India. SRBs, which will have to create frameworks to ensure responsible gaming, protect against harm, safeguard children and age gate them, ensure that games do not violate the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states and public order, and protect against fraud, addiction, and even financial loss, will likely have their hands full in the early days of their registration.


One criterion for the verification of online real money games is that such game "does not involve wagering on any outcome. In this context, it is crucial to bear in mind that while addressing the ban on gambling, courts in India have developed a distinction between 'games of skill' and 'games of chance' � upholding the former as permissible and the latter as prohibited.

Obligations On SRBs

The Gaming Amendments require self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) to publish a report on their website specifying the list of verified online real money games, period of validity, bases for approval and details of suspension or revocation. The Central Government has the power to issue directions to OGIs for continued access by users for the games that are verified by the SRBs.

The Gaming Amendments require intermediaries, as part of their due diligence obligations, to ensure that OGIs do not upload games that is threat to the user or games which are not verified. The advertisements related to unverified games which can misguide and misappropriate the users has been blocked in order to ensure the users safe from any potential threats. Intermediaries are required to inform users of the policy for withdrawal or refund of

deposit, manner of determination and distribution of winnings and fees and other charges payable. They are also are required to set up a robust grievance redressal mechanism, as per prescribed norms. Intermediaries are prohibited from allowing credit or enabling finance facilities to users for the purposes of playing online games involving real money.

SRBs are required to set up a framework to ensure: safeguards against user harm, including psychological harm, measures to safeguard through parental/access controls, age-rating mechanisms, and measures to safeguard users against the risk of gaming addiction. The Gaming Amendments fused the obligations applicable OGIs with the significant social media intermediaries, with specific obligations of Real Money OGIs set out as separate point.

Along with the criteria for KYC and user verification, it has also been forbidden for Real Money OGIs to finance or facilitate credit for participants of Online Real Money Games. Even when compared to important social media intermediaries, Real Money OGI compliance rules are stricter, requiring them to notify users of terms modifications and abide by court or law enforcement orders.

The relationship between SRBs and the Central Government has significantly improved with due credit to the Gaming Amendments. The Central Government can now interact with SRBs in individual formats and pursue their deregistration after giving them a chance to be heard, even though the harder powers, such as the ability to suspend or deregister SRBs, still exist.

In conclusion, even though the Gaming Amendments include many excellent changes, there is a need to better clarify and guide certain of the features to minimise ambiguity for intermediaries like OGIs and to give SRBs clear direction. Overall, the amendments represent an important step towards regulating online gaming and gambling in India, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that the regulations are effective and do not have unintended consequences.

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