The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India is looking to clamp down on illegal online betting and gambling companies by ordering fintech and payment companies to block their payment gateways to non-permissible online games.
A senior official stated that the ministry is planning to release an order stating that “a non-permissible game should not be given the ability to gateway through a financial payment gateway.” This move is expected to make it harder for illegal online betting and gambling companies to operate in India, especially those based in foreign locations.
The government is looking to begin the process once the self-regulatory organizations (SROs) start operating. Under the new institutional framework, SROs will determine if an online game is permissible or not, and there will be multiple SROs.
Earlier this month, MeitY released rules for online gaming, defining an online game as one offered on the internet and accessible through a computer resource or intermediary. The rules state that the moment an online game involves betting and wagering, regardless of its core content, it falls afoul of these rules.
Banks and fintech startups have already started blocking access to payment gateways for players in online gaming and cryptocurrencies, which fall under regulatory grey areas.
The move to tighten regulations on online gaming follows the government’s previous crackdown on Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok and PUBG, in 2020. By clamping down on online gaming, the government is aiming to prevent addiction, safeguard users’ interests, and limit the potential for money laundering and illegal activities.
This latest move to block payment gateways is likely to create further hurdles for the already beleaguered online gaming industry. Nonetheless, it could be seen as a positive step towards regulating the sector and preventing illegal online betting and gambling.