Sunday, January 26, 2014

Indian Online Gaming Industry Is Maturing Says Perry4Law

Online gaming industry in India is fast maturing and it is moving towards a consolidation. Both regulatory environment and business mood is hinting towards a positive report about online gaming industry of India. As the online gaming business essentially involves use of information and communication technology (ICT), certain legal precautions are essential to be observed.

For instance, both e-commerce players and online gaming entrepreneurs must strictly follow cyber law due diligence in India (Pdf). Presently neither the e-commerce players nor the online gaming entrepreneurs are observing the cyber law due diligence requirements except a selective few one. Of course, we have entrepreneurs like Laxmicoin that has decided to wait for clear regulatory requirements rather than engaging in illegal online business. Even the corporate environment in India is fast changing.

Till now we have no dedicated online gaming and gambling laws in India. This has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear among the online gaming entrepreneurs in India. This is also the reason why very few players have entered into the online gaming arena of India.

For instance, legality of online poker in India is still a grey area. It is neither legal nor illegal. Just like Bitcoins exchanges operating in India, online poker websites operating in India can be either legal or illegal. It all depends how an online poker website is managed in India. If it is complying with all the applicable laws and regulations, it is legal to play online poker otherwise it is illegal.

Governments around the world are trying to regulate online gaming and gambling activities. Recently, the United Kingdom asked the Internet service providers (ISPs) to insert warning pages for unlicensed gambling websites. However, the ISPs refused to comply with this demand. Similarly, Singapore is planning to ban online gaming and enact laws in this regard. India is also planning an anti match fixing law that may cover online betting as well.

On the other hand, governments are also trying to liberalise the online gaming segment. The U.K. Gaming (Licensing and Advertising) Bill has passed the third reading in the House of Commons. Similarly, a good start for Internet and online gambling in New Jersey has already taken place and there are very good signs that online poker would be allowed in United States very soon.

Back in India the regulatory environment for online gaming is fast changing. Games like poker and rummy are finding support of both community and legal and judicial fraternity. According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based IT law firm Perry4Law, the High Courts in India are protecting “Games of Skills” from the Criminal actions. Recently, the Bangalore High Court in Kirana S v. State of Karnataka Criminal Petition No. 76482013 (Pdf) held that playing Rummy is not a Criminal Offence as it involved “Application of Skills”, inform Dalal. In fact, another related matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India and the Judgment of Supreme Court would decide the fate of Online Gaming Industry of India, opines Dalal.

It seems this is a good time to start online gaming businesses in India However, before doing so it would be a prudent exercise to consult a good techno legal law firm regarding regulatory compliances as any deviance may create troubles for the entrepreneurs.