The Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022 (Bill) was introduced in the Lok
Sabha on April 1, 2022 to establish an effective regime for regulating online
gaming industry to prevent fraud and misuse. Acknowledging the effects of
addictive features of online gaming and noting the profound impact of the gaming
industry on the nation, the Bill calls for institution of a regulatory
commission to regulate the online gaming industry.
Highlights of the Bill
The definition of "Online Gaming" under the Bill includes any game played on the
electronic devices such as personal computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other
devices. Since the definition does not differentiate between 'game of skill' and
'game of chance', it is apparent that the Bill aims to regulate all kinds of
games played on such electronic devices.
The Bill encompasses constitution of a regulatory commission namely, Online
Gaming Commission ("OGC") consisting of five members nominated by the Central
Government, with at least one expert each from the field of law, cyber
technology and one person with experience in law enforcement.
The OGC will be empowered to, inter alia, oversee the functions of online gaming
websites; make periodical or special reports on matters pertaining to Online
Gaming; suggest appropriate measures to control and curb illegal Online Gaming;
grant, suspend and revoke licenses for online gaming websites and determine the
fee for license applications and license renewals of such websites.
The Bill proposes to prohibit engagement of Online Gaming without a website and
a non-transferrable and non-assignable license. Any person operating an online
gaming server or an online gaming website without such license is punishable
with imprisonment up to three years along with fine. The license will be valid
for a term of six years.
The license proposed to be granted under the Bill may be suspended or cancelled
if the licensee breaches any of the conditions of the license or, contravenes
any of the provisions of the Bill. However, the Bill excludes its application to
any person providing backend services in India including hosting and maintenance
services for any international gaming website based outside India.
Hits and Misses:
The Bill draws similarity from a private member bill namely the Sports (Online
Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018 ("Sports Bill") introduced in the Lok
Sabha on December 28, 2018, which has thereafter lapsed. Similar to the Sports
Bill, the Bill proposes to, inter alia, introduce regulations relating to
constitution of a regulatory commission, license for online gaming server/
website, foreign direct investment and technology collaboration in online
However, the Bill has not included provisions in relation to various key issues,
including data protection of the users, geographic restrictions and exclusions,
and customer grievance mechanism. Whilst the Bill is a welcome step in
regulating the online gaming sector, the legal framework envisaged under the
Bill does not address some of the key areas of concerns in the online gaming
ecosystem, such as a strict regulatory framework for the conduct of the
platforms in the online gaming sector which is essential at this juncture.
Given the persistent growth of online gaming market in India, it may be seen as
an opportunity for the legislators to have in-depth discussions during the
parliamentary sessions on the Bill and analyse the uncertainty relating to
appropriate rules in this sector. The Bill may be further amended to include
robust provisions for protecting the interests of the online gamers as well as
- Ambuj Sonal, Associate Partner, Link Legal
- Subham Biswal, Associate, Link Legal
The contents of this article are for general information and discussion only and
is not intended for any solicitation of work. This article should not be relied
upon as a legal advice or opinion.