The Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom (UKGC) just reported that the problem gambling rate in Great Britain in 2022 was 0.2%, the same figure that was measured for 2021. For 2020 and 2019, problem gambling was 0.3% and 0.6% respectively.
The revealed data shows that the UKGC has been successfully fulfilling its mission to “make gambling safer” by licensing and regulating gambling providers, including the British National Lottery, in a way that protects the players and the public by ensuring that gambling is fair, safe, and responsible.
On the other hand, various studies have shown that gamblers in mature markets like the UK expect responsible gaming to be there. Awareness and acceptance of responsible gaming (RG) policies and mechanisms such as self-exclusion schemes and deposit or spending limits have been growing, and overall platform safety is taken as something natural by users.
Moreover, it turns out that player expectations reach far beyond mere gamer protection and have a much wider social aspect to them.
Entertaining users in a safe way is no longer enough, as gaming has ceased to be a product-centered marketing category. Online game providers now need to provide full-scale end-to-end service focused on customer happiness and positive experiences.
Surveys have established that around four fifths of gamers globally see online gaming as a way to socialize, either with old friends or relatives, or with completely new people, while two thirds would choose to play a socially responsible game over one that is ignorant to societal needs.
Indian parliament “noticed” there was a problem with leaving online gaming space unregulated only in December 2021. Notable speakers at the Rajya Sabha observed that the existing system where states are left to attempt controlling the issue by banning it was not adequate to the realities of the internet age.
Now, more than a year later, India is still searching for the right taxation and regulation regimes, but the general framework has started to take shape.
In December last year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) was appointed as the nodal ministry for matters related to online gaming, while eSports went under the purview of the Sports Department at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Shortly after the issue of who is to be responsible for legislating over online gaming was solved, Meity published a proposal for amendments to the IT Rules and initiated closed-door consultations with various stakeholders, including gamers, businesses, industry bodies, health and safety experts, educators, parents, and others.
The draft amendments contain a solution to another long overdue problem - should online game providers be treated as publishers or intermediaries, establish the role of Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs), and include responsible gaming among the regulatory goals.
On the state-level front things don’t look so bright, however, as in some places the old argument whether online games can and should be banned has taken grotesque proportions on the backdrop of a growing number of suicides that can be linked to online games.
The changes to the legal landscape related to online gaming intended by the Central Government will preserve the power of states to ban gambling and betting over the internet, but will make such bans more effective.
At the same time, the national regulation will ensure that all games that have not been banned are safe and conform to the rules. If done right, Indian players will soon after be expecting safe, responsible and socially aware online gaming just to be there like their counterparts from mature economies around the world.