Eventus International hosted a special SPiCE India Webinar on 17th March 2020 to discuss the recent development in the gaming industry, hits and misses in the last year and predictions for 2020. Operators and users from all over the world joined the webinar.
The ‘Pre-SPiCE India 2020 Webinar: A Sneak Peek of 2019 Developments and What to Expect at SPiCE India 2020’ was kicked off with opening remarks by Yudi Soetjiptadi, Managing Director, Eventus International, and moderator Jay Sayta, , Gaming Industry Analyst/Strategic Advisor, SPiCE India 2020.
After the opening notes, there was a panel discussion with panelists Ranjana Adhikari, Co-head Media Entertainment & Gaming Practice, Nishith Desai Associates; Vidushpat Singhania, Managing Partner, Krida Legal; Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation; and Albert Climent, CEO, OneBlock Technologies Ltd.
Here’re some of the highlights of the panel discussion:
Noting the effect of COVID-19 outbreak, in her opening remarks, Adhikari said that in the current situation, the market is opening up the opportunity for the entertainment industry, and in India, gaming is a big part of the entertainment industry.
Singhania said that there are high chances of fantasy sports being recognised as a game of skill by the Supreme Court, which will lead to the market growing exponentially.
Landers highlighted how the gaming market has a great potential in the world and in India, with currently it having the highest Average Revenue Per User. He referred to Mukesh Ambani’s comment on how gaming will be bigger than movies, music and television put together.
When asked to throw some light on the trends and numbers about the industry, Landers said that the real-money gaming’s Gross Gaming Revenue is about half-a-billion dollars with contributions from daily fantasy sports (DFS), rummy, poker, and other real-money games of skills. He also said that in the wake of the possibility of live matches being cancelled, online card games, digital skill games and digital e-sport will see growth.
Climent said that it’s early to say that there will be a spike in gaming consumption in the wake of COVID-19. He also said that the way people consume content will change dramatically, and that for the next 12-24 months there may be a lack of content. He said that in this disruptive time, people’s lifestyle and content consumption will change, and there will be opportunities for operators to grow and adapt the industry.
Landers pointed out how judiciary voices and economic voices also have recently highlighted how regulating sports betting will help add to the coffers of the government.
Adhikari said that when users are practising social distancing and live events and games are being cancelled worldwide, there is an opportunity for operators to create innovative content like simulated and virtual products to cater to the changing needs of the users.
Climent pointed out that with the current environment in the industry, the authorities have plenty of time at hand, a transitional time of 12-24 months, to work on a clear regulatory framework for sports betting. However, Adhikari made a counter argument that the government, at present, may have other pressing issues to address, rather than prioritising the formulation of gaming and betting regulations.
Singhania also commented on the legal landscape of the gaming industry, highlighting the daily fantasy sports case in Supreme Court, Poker and daily fantasy sports cases in Delhi High Court and, Punjab and Maharashtra banning online lottery, and GST remaining the biggest challenge for lottery and other gaming operators. Adhikari said that there is a lot to be done on the legislations front for the online gaming business to achieve the stability it needs, however it may not happen overnight. She appreciated industry bodies who are uniquely self-regulating to help the businesses in the industry thrive and advocating the right causes with the government.
Esports was highlighted by Landers, Adhikari and Singhania to have a great future in India. Adhikari said that for those looking for an opportunity in the industry, esports is a great option.
The panel discussion was followed by a brief Q&A round, where the panelists addressed questions raised by some attendees.
In response to a user question about the commercial viability of fantasy sports in India in case a regulation is passed on sports betting, the panelists said that there is a high chance that the current fantasy sports operators will find a way to move their registered users from the softer fantasy sports gaming with real money to more hardcore sports betting.
There was another question raised about the possibility of coexistence of fantasy sports and sports betting in the Indian market. The panelists predicted that sports betting is more likely to take over the fantasy sports market, in case both are legalised in India.
The last user question was about the possibility of operators running online sports betting operations in the absence of clear regulations in India, taking the court route. To this, a panelist said that its possibility can’t be ruled out, as the court route has certainly been taken by horse betting and some real-money games like rummy.
The Pre-SPiCE India 2020 Webinar was held due to postponement of SPiCE India 2020 event, which was scheduled to be held from 25-27 March, 2020 at Goa Marriott Resort & Spa. The event was postponed due to travel restrictions imposed on foriegn nationals by the government of India amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The new dates for the event are yet to be announced.