The E-Gaming Federation will form Self Regulatory Organisations for the online gaming industry by May-end, as mandated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
According to MeitY guidelines, the SRO boards would comprise stakeholders, including industry representatives, educationists, child-protection activists, psychology and law enforcement experts, along with a representative of the Centre.
Malay Kumar Shukla, Secretary, E-Gaming Federation, told businessline that amendments to the IT Act 2021 to regulate online gaming, made earlier in April, mandates the formation of SROs, including government appointees.
The incorporation of SROs as Section 8 organisations, and identifying their board members, is a four-to-six-week exercise, which is underway. “We should complete the process by May-end, and the SROs should start their activities thereafter,” Shukla added.
SROs will have the power to approve new games and oversee the online gaming ecosystem, including gaming intermediaries and operators, the gamers, online gaming transactions, advertisers, and infrastructure.
Setting up guidelines with the help of all the stakeholders on the board and monitoring compliance will be in the SROs’ ambit. SROs will have to ensure that new games launched are in line with the Supreme Court mandate of allowing only skill-based games, and not chance-based games.
“For now, there will not be a disruption as gaming operators offer skill-based gaming, but SROs will regulate adherence for future launches,” said Shukla.
SROs will also have the power to take up legal matters with various agencies , as online gaming is being banned by a number of states, including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.
Legitimate Indian skill-based gaming platforms suffer when a state disallows gaming, leaving a lacuna for operators who are not bound by the laws, he said.
With the SROs and their government representation, there will be awareness and consensus on issues, rather than blanket bans. Codifying self-regulatory practices as law under the new IT Act is a progressive step for the industry, said Shukla.
Poonam Kaul, brand evangelist, E-Gaming Federation, said as part of the ‘Asli Gamer’ campaign, over two lakh players had pledged to become responsible players, and about 750 of them had live-streamed their gaming session for nearly a fortnight, all to inculcate responsibility in their regular gaming.