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Government Should Clearly Differentiate ‘Online Games’ From E-sports: E-sports Players

Tournaments often take deposits from players and then award prizes to winners, which can potentially create confusion under the new rules

E-sports players said they want a clear definition of “online games” that differentiates it from e-sports at a consultation held by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on the recently released draft amendments to the Information Technology Rules, 2021, which now seek to regulate online games, Business Standard reported. The consultation was held on January 11, 2023.  The recently released draft rules lay out two important characteristics for defining an “online game”: They are offered on the internet and are accessible through a computer resource (so, games not on the internet are not online games under these rules). A user makes a deposit with the expectation of earning winnings (which indicates that the government wants to regulate betting-related games, however, this phrasing could include several other types of games as well) This broad definition has created confusion on what the government means by an “online game”. For example, several chess tournaments are held where participants deposit money and then, the winner takes home a significant price. At the same time, there are games like online roulette, where people deposit money and win based on chance (or luck, whatever you wanna call it). Does it make sense to regulate a game like chess and roulette in a similar fashion? And does the ministry want to do exactly this or does it want to regulate them separentley? It remains unclear. In December 2022, the Indian government designated the IT ministry as the nodal ministry for regulating online gaming whereas the sports ministry was given the…

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I cover privacy, surveillance and tech policy. In my reporting, I try my best to present the most relevant facts, and sometimes add in a pinch of my thoughts.

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