Best Online Gaming Legal Services Firm in India
The online gaming industry has witnessed a recent increase in India and there have been a spurt of a variety of online gaming platforms in India. Ahlawat & Associates are one of the few law firms in India which have a robust legal team which provides assistance to clients in navigating the legal and regulatory landscape for setting up a business in this sector in light of various central and state legislations.
As a background on this subject, the Constitution provides for ‘Betting and Gambling’ as a matter listed under Entry 34 under List II of Schedule VII (which lists out the subjects on which the individual States have the law-making authority). In simpler words, the State legislatures have been endowed with the power to legislate on matters relating to gaming. From a practical point of view, this can get very overwhelming and exhaustive for clients to go through each state legislation and licensing requirements (if applicable). Our Team at Ahlawat and Associates is well versed with the state-specific legislations and the relevant licensing requirements.
At Ahlawat & Associates, we possess thorough knowledge on the prevailing laws in India pertaining to online gaming and online sports and can assist in overcoming all regulatory issues that may arise with the gaming laws of different states.
While setting up a business in India in this industry, it should be kept in mind that online gaming platforms are classified into two heads viz. ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance’. ‘Games of Skill’ are those where the outcome is determined primarily by mental or physical skill, rather than chance. In simpler terms, a game of skill is when a player needs to invest their time in learning, practicing and mastering their skill in order to win. The success of any player in such games is dependent on the players awareness of the rules and practices of the same, and on how efficient the player is at such a game.
In contrast, a ‘game of chance’ is where the aspect of luck or chance dominates skill or affects the outcome of the game. A game of chance may be determined entirely or on part by mere luck (not through any particular skill of the player) such as in a throw of dice. Incidentally, in a game of chance there is no way of predicting a clear outcome.
Section 12 of the Public Gambling Act 1867 titled ‘Acts not to apply to certain games’ states ‘nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Act contained shall be held to apply to any game of mere skill wherever played’. This provision provides for an exclusion of games of skill from being prohibited and penalized. However, some states have their own gaming and gambling legislations which have some regulatory requirements for establishing an online gaming business.
Our Team at Ahlawat and Associates is highly equipped to assist clients in navigating the complex state legislations pertaining to the online gaming industry.
There are various types of online gaming platforms including: (a) online fantasy sports platforms; (b) online gaming platforms; (c) online game streaming platforms; etc.
We, at Ahlawat & Associates, take pride in the fact that we have a team dedicated to gaming technology that focuses on the rapidly growing online gaming industry and the regulations governing the field. Our team has expertise on the regulations, compliances and legislations in various states within India. Our team constantly stays updated with the gaming laws in the different Indian states and therefore is equipped to apprise its clients with the changing regulatory landscape in this field of law.
Further, our team has experience of representing and advising the expanding range of participants in the online gaming industry resulting from a deep understanding of the dynamic gaming business. These include online gaming platforms, influencers, sponsors, individual gamers, etc.
As one of the top law firms for online gaming, we are proud of offering bespoke advice and opinions on the gaming laws within India.
- Incorporating of an online gaming entity in accordance with the Indian Companies Act, 2013.
- Advisory on gaming laws and regulations in different states and their implications.
- Drafting and representation on employee agreements and contracts.
- Compliances with licensing requirements in different states in India.
- Intellectual Property protection including trademark registration process, copyrights, etc.
- Provide advisory on transactional documents including but not limited to preparation of due diligence report; shareholders agreement of the companies engaged in gaming; share purchase agreement, etc.
- Commercial Litigation.
- We analyzed the intended business proposal for a client and provided a detailed legal opinion on the legality of operation of their gaming platform in India. We advised the client on the issue of whether their gaming platform would classify as a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’ in accordance with the tests laid down under the various judicial precedents. Additionally, we advised the client on the licensing requirements under various state legislations for operation of their platform. Further, we also assisted the client on the extent of permissibility of the FDI Policy on gaming platforms.
- We assisted one of our clients in drafting and negotiating a contract with a celebrity influencer for streaming of content on the Client’s online game streaming platform.
- We assisted one of our clients in drafting and negotiating a contract for streaming of gaming content of another entity’s website.
1. Is online gaming allowed in India?Yes, online gaming is permitted under in India. However, since “betting and gambling” is a matter falling under the State List, the Indian states have the power to make laws for regulation of online gaming.
2. Are Online Gaming Platforms permissible in India?It depends on the nature of the game hosted by the online gaming platform. In India, games are classified into two categories – ‘game of skill’ and ‘game of chance’. The India Government has placed a blanket ban on ‘game of chance’; however, games of skill are mostly permitted in India. Some states have placed a ban on games of skill while others have exempted ‘games of skill’ from being penalized. The Karnataka High Court recently struck down the ban that was placed on games of skill by the Karnataka Government.
3. What is a ‘game of skill’?‘Games of Skill’ are seen as a game where the outcome is determined primarily by mental or physical skill, rather than chance. In simpler terms, a game of skill is when a player needs to invest their time in learning, practicing and mastering their skill in order to win. The success of any player in such games is dependent on the players awareness of the rules and practices of the same, and on how efficient the player is at such a game.
4. What services can Ahlawat and Associates assist with as regards online gaming?Our Online Gaming team at Ahlawat and Associates is equipped with assisting its clients with an array of services for this industry. Our services include but are not limited to incorporation of an Online Gaming company; drafting and negotiating vendor, employee and distributor agreements; Intellectual property protection; Compliances under the Information Technology Rules; Licensing and regulatory compliances, Compliances under FDI Policy, etc.
5. Are there any states where licenses are required to operate online gaming platforms?Yes, there are a few states where the respective legislation requires the obtaining of licenses to operate online gaming platforms. Some of the such Indian States which have licensing requirement include Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, etc.
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