Making Online Skill Gaming Future Ready
According to the EY-FICCI Report released in March 2020, the number of online gamers in India grew 31% in 2019 at 365 million and is expected to reach 440 million by 2022. The online gaming industry is growing at a CAGR of 22%. By 2024, the industry is said to be around $4 billion

On January 29, 2021, the All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF), the apex industry body for Online Skill Gaming platforms in India, in association with the Times of India and Vijay Karnataka hosted a webinar titled, ‘ Karnataka, Are you game for future?’ as part of their ‘ Game for Future’ campaign.

The topic of the discussion was ‘ Thriving Ecosystem of Online Skill Gaming’. The panellists were Justice Vikramjit Sen, Chairman AIGF Advisory Panel, Former Judge Supreme Court of India, Former Chief Justice – Karnataka High Court, Shweta R Kohli, Director and Head of Public Policy, Sequoia India & South East Asia, Biren Ghose, Chair - CII National Committee on AVGC & Immersive Media; President – ABAI and Country Head, Technicolor India and Roland Landers, CEO AIGF. The moderator for the session was Narayanan Krishnaswami, Editor with the Times of India Group.

This panel discussion on creating an ecosystem for online skill gaming highlighted some interesting perspectives.

Why Is online gaming a sunrise industry?

Shweta Kohli said, “It is exciting that India is one of the top 5 mobile gaming markets. Our country alone makes up for about 13% of the global market share. The pandemic has provided better acceptance of digital technology.” She further added, “When a category has so much of consumer attraction, it is only natural for the investor community to be interested in it. The one thing that investors look for is certainty and regulating clarity and this is what is plaguing the industry right now and needs to be fixed.”

Zooming in on regulation

Hoping to bring uniformity into the sector, the online gaming industry as well as experts have been urging the Indian government to set up a self-regulatory body which will standardize regulations governing the industry.

Justice Sen mentioned that judiciary has done the spade work and paved the way for the government to codify the laws to regulate gaming and its genres (instead of banning).

Shweta explained why regulations are the need of the hour, “Centre level guidelines will at some level have to lay the foundation and base for States to start. Regulations require interoperability across geographies. And currently we don’t even have regulations that work Inter-State. This creates confusion for the investor community.” She added, “Though their reasons might vary, regulation is important for all the three stakeholders - the government, the industry, and the user. For the government regulations are important to understand how the industry can create revenue; for the investors, regulations will provide clarity on which they can draw a roadmap on and for the end-user, regulations will ensure protection.”

Clear guidelines on their way

Bengaluru is known as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ due to the growing number of technology companies it houses, and ranks above London and Tel Aviv where growth index for start-ups is concerned.

Biren mentioned that with the help of policy intervention and positive response from various stakeholders, there is no doubt that Bengaluru will shine bright and create as many as 12,000 jobs in the next 5 years. Biren said, “I am confident that the State of Karnataka would be the first to draft a policy for gaming. I believe that Bengaluru has a very enabling, supportive approach to business and can create an ecosystem, as it has proved in the case of the Biotech and Electronics industries.”

Guest speaker, Mr Bommai, Minister of Home Affairs, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation, Government of Karnataka said, “There are a lot of grey areas in online gaming and each State has treated them differently. People try to divide them into ‘Skill Games’ and ‘Games of Chance’. However, skill games can be converted into game of chance and vice-versa, thus giving rise to issues, both technical and legal. The government of Karnataka is studying myriad online games in entirety, and for those that can be played not only in India but from any part of the world. Other States such as Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have come out with their laws. We are going to study the entire gambit and then come up with a comprehensive list of laws for Karnataka soon.”

Creating a plan

Biren suggested that the IT BT department will have to sensitise the government by creating a vision, as well as a reference group and address concerns like:

  • Are all online games betting or gambling platforms?
  • Are online game platforms manipulating technology so that users don’t win?
  • Which body in the government will take care of grievances?
  • How is the KYC of players going to be verified?
  • How do we stop games that are not legalized?

Biren affirmed, “Since the last 10 years, that we have been going to colleges and helping scholars become the best technicians and artists, transforming Bengaluru into a hub it is today, is not a new story. All we need to do is, put it in the context of what is already created.”
Roland sumed the session by discussing the various possibilities of the government working in tandem with AIGF. He said, “AIGF governs its stakeholders through AIGF Skill Games Charter based on integrity, global best practices, and more. And wherever States have come forward to create a framework in association with a body, it has always worked well.”

Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Times - Red Cell by Mediawire team.

Source:, February 08, 2021