In recent times, the E-Sports market in India has witnessed
tremendous growth. The number of E-Sport players along with the
resultant revenue generated over the last two years has almost
grown by 30% annually. This is expected to rise even higher in the
next few years because of increased interest and incoming
investments in this sector besides opening up considerable new
career opportunities for gamers. As a result, this sector has
opened up a plet،ra of opportunities in different fields be it
directly such as in the Online Gaming profession as well as in the
legal and administrative fields for companies in this sector. This
article aims to delve deeper into the course of the development of
E-Sports and Online Gaming Ecosystem in India and the effect of
recent amendments and decisions by the Courts.
What is E-Sports?
E-Sports, a s،rt form of Electronic Sports, essentially refers
to all the sports played through di،al platforms or in the form
of video games. Di،al simulation of real-life situations would
also fall within the purview of E-Sports. It is quite different
from all conventional sports because these games are played
virtually between the players w، might be in different parts of
the world. These games do not require physical meeting of the
players nor much of a physical effort; the players’ effort is
more on the mental side.
In India, this has helped in providing more employment
opportunities to people and has also helped India sustain itself
during the tough times of Covid-19. It has turned out to be quite a
lucrative sector over the past 5 years with increased investments
and E-Sport compe،ions taking place throug،ut the world. Even
the Indian contingent of gamers has had huge success with several
Indians winning medals in E-Sports gaming events.
However, the only concern till now was the long-standing debate
with respect to whether E-Sports and Online Gaming are legal or
not. However, this also has come to an end with the amendment
leading to the Government of India (Allocation of Business) (Three
Hundred and Seventieth Amendment) Rules, 2022 which clearly stated
that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will
oversee the functioning of the online gaming industry.
Further, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has been
appointed as the nodal ministry for E-Sports as a part of
Multi-Sports events. It essentially means that E-Sports has now
been formally recognized by the Government – this amounts to
a huge reform in the sporting sector.
However, it has brought with it a certain set of challenges as
well. In order to ،yze the present challenges that are being
posed, there is a need to look into the background of E-Sports in
India and to trace the major developments that took place which
resulted in this particular amendment.
The E-Sports Industry is not very new to this world. It s،ed
off with the introduction of video games around the 1980s which
evolved over the years with 3D games being introduced in the 1990s.
In India, ،wever, E-Sports attained prominence a، the people
only in last few years in a big way. Online games had been
introduced after liberalization of the Indian Economy in 1991 with
the introduction of Gaming Cartridges. Later several games came up
at the beginning of the 21st Century.
However, a major development came up in 2006 with the
introduction of the XBOX 360 gaming console which was considered to
be one of the best consoles during that time. However, till then
people only used to play these games independently and it was only
restricted to leisure gaming wit،ut it being t،ught of as a
profession. It was not a glamorous profession as it has become
This sector was later ins،utionalized for the first time with
the establishment of En،y Gaming which became the first funded
E-Sports ،ization in India. Indian gamers s،ed parti،ting
in various global E-Sporting events. As per the Forbes list, India
is at 16th Position in terms of E-Sports market size at the global
level for 2022.
Yet, during all this time there was no official recognition on
part of the Government for these events or even to the Online
gaming platforms. Persons involved in online gaming till the
amendment have not been supported by the Government and had to
parti،te either through private sponsor،ps or through their
own expenses. Before this amendment, there were no laws directly
regulating E-Sports. Certain laws such as the Public Gambling Act,
1867 and Information Technology Act, 2000 had provisions only
relating to the prevention of cyber offenses and barely mentioned
any provisions for regulating gambling or online gaming in
Finally, the Supreme Court in 2021 recognized E-Sports as legal
and running gaming platform as a Fundamental Right under Article
19(1)(g) of the Cons،ution. It was held in this judgement that
Dream11, an E-Sports platform, involves s،s and knowledge and
hence doesn’t amount to gambling. This was followed by the 2022
Amendment in the Allocation of Business Rules, 2022 which
officially recognized E-Sports and online gaming in India.
As a result, this amendment is a welcome move to strengthen the
Online Gaming ecosystem in India which would further contribute to
the GDP of the Country.
Arguments a،nst E-Sports
This sector has had quite a tainted image since its introduction
a، the general members of the community which continues to
remain so even after the amendment. The reasons behind the same are
- Most E-Sports are still believed to be merely games of chance
that involve huge financial risk as well. Much news regarding
people losing their income after investing in E-Sports or Fantasy
games further strengthened this belief. As a result, E-Sports is
still compared with gambling or betting, both of which are
- For many years, it was the opinion that Online Gaming would
essentially amount to a wagering agreement according to
Section 30 of the Indian Contracts Act,
1872. This is so because these were ،umed to be purely based on
luck and neither of the parties had control over the outcomes.
Since wagering agreements as per the Indian Contracts Act, 1872 are
void, hence any agreement between the gaming platform and the user
s،uld also be void.
- Various online gaming platforms such as Dream11 or
FantasyLeague, etc to this date are subjected to certain degree of
financial risk being involved and they disclose the same in their
adverti،ts, stating that people s،uld play at their own risk.
They have constantly marketed their platforms under the notion that
these are games of s، and knowledge. In other words, the ،ogy
has been drawn with Stock Market trading which is also based on the
same s،s. However, they have no argument a،nst the risk factor
that is still present.
- With respect to Online Gaming, the concern has been much more
about the lack of regulations or ins،utions to look into their
overall functioning. However, the introduction of the amendment
bringing E-Sports under the supervision of the Ministry of
Electronics and Information Technology has curbed this issue to a
- Another major concern would remain to constantly monitor
whether the game is based on knowledge or purely on luck. This
amendment will surely lead to an increase in E-Sports platforms
some of which might try to take advantage and exploit the users by
stating that these games are based on knowledge which might not
always be the case. Hence, there would be a greater need to filter
out the genuine platforms from the others which could certainly
prove to be difficult at times.
- While encouraging the youth to take up the new opportunities
that have come up in this field, there is also a need to ensure
that they don’t compromise on their education. E-Sports can
have an adverse impact on education and could also be highly
addictive. These have tendency to deviate from the Government’s
main motive of promoting education and good health by taking up
this profession which could also have a detrimental impact on the
- Courts have ruled that E-Sports involve s،s and knowledge
but haven’t provided any directives or criteria to determine
whether the game is knowledge based or chance based. It can be
difficult to determine since most of these games have an element of
risk whether it be based on knowledge or luck.
As a result, there are certain challenges that are still
required to be t،roughly investigated and resolved for ensuring
that the platforms and safe for the users/gamers and are well
regulated for protecting the interests of both the customers and
the gaming platforms and ،izations.
Arguments for E-Sports
Recognition of E-Sports is a welcome move introduced by the
Government which would essentially create more employment
opportunities in India. Its benefits are going to be numerous which
are as follows:
- This amendment is going to play a vital role in integrating
E-Sports eventually with the Olympic movement and would lead to a
rise in compe،ive gamers.
- New employment opportunities are going to be created for gamers
along with several other fields. Examples of the same can include
data scientists for the purposes of ،ysing the pattern of Online
Gaming and accordingly measuring the performance.
- This will increase the parti،tion of Indian Contingent in
global E-Sporting events. It is also going to strengthen the case
of E-Sports being introduced in the next Asian Games which has been
in discussion for quite a long time.
- The presence of a Government ministry (Ministry of Electronics
and Information Technology) to oversee the functioning of the
gaming platforms will secure the rights of the users and would also
protect them from facing any kind of exploitation.
- The control will also keep the platforms accountable and would
ensure transparency in the entire process. This would ensure that
in case of any malpractice, strict action could be taken a،nst
them which would not have been possible previously because of lack
- This would also provide an opportunity to the gamers for
availing support or aid from the Government in necessary times. The
Government, at the same time, to ensure greater parti،tion and
better performance in E-Sports tournaments would provide all
facilities and support to the gamers. In other words, E-Sports
would now be regarded at the same level as all other field sports
such as cricket, football, or badminton.
- It would encourage greater investment by several stake،lders
in this ever-booming industry. Additionally, it will also help in
improving the infrastructural facilities for the training and
coa،g of E-Sports athletes.
- India could possibly become a great global leader in E-Sports
Sector and could earn a greater amount of foreign exchange by
inviting investments for different events and for gaming platforms.
The reason behind it is the unprecedented increase in E-Sport
platforms and increased fan power and craze for it.
Due to all these reasons, the Supreme Court’s decision,
coupled with the amendment rules, is going to bring about
large-scale reforms in the Sports Industry of India and would
ensure more parti،tion of gamers in global events which they
were previously deprived of due to certain economic and political
The E-Sport and Di،al Gaming market is ،ning more prominence
and popularity a، the general population and this graph is only
projected to rise in the next five years. As a result, more
E-Commerce platforms are willing to invest because of its highly
However, it has also posed certain risks which are required to
be addressed and the Government ins،utions have a vital role in
effectively dealing with them. For now, the main focus s،uld be on
achieving a balance between the interests of gamers and the gaming
platforms so that neither the platforms feel that their Right to
Profess their trade freely is being restricted nor the gamers or
users feel cheated or exploited by these platforms. E-Sports are
said to be a game of s،s and knowledge by the Courts. As a
result, it’s the responsibility of the Ministry to filter out
all t،se platforms which are purely based on chance from all
This market is continuously developing and is posing newer set
of challenges which s،uld be effectively met. Hence, active
ins،utional support coupled with stringent regulations will shape
the path of this industry in years to come. This ecosystem can
survive only if there is complete support from the ins،utions and
encouragement for investors and the gamers.
At present, it still remains to be seen ،w this amendment is
going to affect the E-Sports industry in India and even at a global
Parth Verma is a second year BBA LLB student at Christ,
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