In a letter to the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) on February 3, 2022, four of the biggest gaming companies—Dream Sports (which operates Dream11), Mobile Premier League (MPL), Zupee, & Games24x7 – who all are a member of the industry group Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), have distanced themselves from the association’s recent declaration that the proposed gaming rules were correct on intent but inadequate on scoping.
The gaming companies said in their letter that IAMAI’s statement does not reflect their viewpoint & that they were not contacted before publishing the above remark on such a divisive topic.
What does the note convey?
The note made clear that these companies disagree with the IAMAI’s statements & have voiced a strong disagreement with them. Despite their status as part of the IAMAI Gaming Committee, they wanted to explain that they disagreed with the main claim made in the release, according to the note delivered on February 3, 2022.
A few suggestions have been made for consideration through their specialized gaming industry bodies & IAMAI will be consulted on them. The statement then went on to say that they were not consulted nor given any information before the announcement by IAMAI.
Gaming Companies and E-Gaming Federation
This is significant since the aforementioned gaming companies are among India’s most critical and prominent businesses concerning online gaming. IAMAI has already been actively discussing the issue with companies and the government, but the most recent dispute would give the situation a new twist.
In addition to more than a dozen fantasy sports startups, gaming companies also belong to organizations like the E-Gaming Federation, which includes members like Games24x7, Junglee Games, and MPL; the All India Gaming Federation, which includes Zupee, GamesKraft, Paytm First Games, and MPL; and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports.
The companies further believe that steps taken to combat the threat of offshore unlawful gambling applications and websites are a welcome move and will go a long way towards giving our gaming users a safe and reputable internet, according to the Note to MeiTY.
The authentication of each game through some self-regulatory agency for service providers or advertising platforms was one of the main issues in IAMAI’s note.
IAMAI claimed; a few elements in the document also appear to imply that companies that market, produce, or host online games must regularly verify each game’s compliance with the Rules of the self-regulatory body (SRB), which would make it impractical. It should be optional for intermediaries to check and confirm the registrations of online games.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, this suggestion would affect other IAMAI partners like Meta, Amazon, Google, & other BigTech companies, which may have contributed to the public announcement.
Since the statement was released, personnel with knowledge of the ongoing dispute between IAMAI & gaming companies remarked that the issue is that betting-related gaming companies are moving to stream services & social media sites instead of receiving promotions on TV. In that situation, mediators are requested to confirm each game.
Why did IMAI react?
Before the proposed e-gaming regulations were published, IAMAI reportedly stated that it would be best prepared to act as the industry’s self-regulator. However, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the state minister for electronics and information technology, stated that industry organizations would not be permitted to become self-regulatory organizations and that SRBs needed to be independent of the dominance of gaming intermediaries, which led the government to reject the proposal.
There has been disagreement over SRBs, even among game companies themselves. For instance, WinZo contacted Chandrasekhar’s office last year and expressed opposition to any SRB setup. According to some in the business, there may need to be more than one SRB.
WinZo stated in its representations that their objections to the formation of SROs (or SRBs) for the online gaming industry regulation are primarily due to the inherent conflicts of interest and biases between the regulatory functions of the SROs and their members, market operations, issuers, as well as shareholders. It was anticipated that an SRO would also need to include industry participants and some neutral members. However, the option of several SROs is included in the draught guidelines, allaying the initial concern.
Conflicts among companies & government bodies are common, as sometimes a party might not agree with the other’s decision. Although it is unhealthy for the gaming industry when such gaming giants are involved in conflicts, it would be exciting to see the future outcome.