IMGL Magazine November 2022

Emerging markets & culture

2022: a turning point for India’s online gaming industry Recent developments are likely to see a burgeoning of gaming in one of the world’s largest markets as Gowree Gokhale and Tanisha Khanna report

T he start of 2022 heralded a new era for India’s online gaming industry. Historically, real money gaming has been plagued with social and ethical concerns. However recently, the Indian Government has begun to recognize the gaming industry as a pillar of the Indian economy. Indian courts have also reiterated that offering online games of skill is a protected business activity 1 , and playing such games is protected as freedom of speech and expression 2 under the Indian Constitution. Indian gaming companies have achieved unicorn status and have been listed on the stock exchange.

investment, and employment. Today, the Indian film industry is a leading film market globally. As India’s online gaming industry stands at this critical turning point, conducive regulations, which are in the offing, will likely have the same impact.

The meteoric rise of India’s online gaming industry (to INR 120 billion in 2022 3 ) in the last few years can be compared to that of Bollywood’s in the ‘90s. The hitherto unorganized filmmaking industry was accorded ‘industry’ status by the Government in May, 1998, marking a significant change in state attitude towards it. This sparked increased consumption, 1 RMD Chamarbaugwala & Anr. V Union of India & Anr. [1957] 1 SCR 930, RMD Chamarbaugwala & Anr. V Union of India & Anr. [1957] 1 SCR 930 2 All India Gaming Federation vs The State of Karnataka & Ors, WP 18703/2021. 3 On the flipside, there has also been greater scrutiny of the industry. There has been scrutiny of offshore gambling platforms offered remotely in India, and unlawful gambling advertisements. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“MeiTy”) has directed telecom service providers to block access to foreign betting and gambling websites offered remotely in India. This came following large scale foreign remittances made by Indian players to bet on such platforms, in violation of exchange control regulations. Tax authorities and India’s Enforcement Directorate have also scrutinized potential tax evasion and foreign exchange and money-laundering violations by gaming operators.

14 • IMGL Magazine • November 2022

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