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Gaming

Goa Casino Policy on hold, to be Deliberated only after Mining Crisis is Resolved

Goa Ports Minister Michael Lobo while interacting with the press indicated that the long-pending Casino Policy of the state, that envisages shifting of the offshore casinos to a land zone near the upcoming Mopa airport, will not see the light of the day anytime soon.

Lobo stated that the top priority of the state government for the moment is resumption of iron ore mining in the state, which was abruptly stopped in March 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed all licenses issued by the state government.

The state government’s review petition in the Supreme Court on the mining issue is still pending while the state is also simultaneously lobbying with the central government to get appropriate amendments in the central Mines legislation.

The state minister noted that lakhs of people’s livelihood in Goa depends on mining and hence it would send a wrong message if the Chief Minister tries to bring in a Casino Policy before the mining issue is resolved.

When asked about the proposal to shift offshore casinos to land, the Minister said that it was a decision taken by former CM Manohar Parrikar. “Casino owners had agreed to the proposal but suggested that they should be given time and be allowed to have live gaming. The same was agreed by the then CM, who had said that soon we will come out with the Land Casino Policy for the State of Goa,” he said.

Lobo said that the policy is also pending and the same will be taken up by the chief minister shortly. He added that once the policy comes up, the offshore casinos will be shifted in phased manner. 

The Ports Minister added that the decision to streamline casino industry is important as it is part of the Goa’s tourism industry.

Lobo has strongly backed the casino industry in the state as it is linked to investment by several companies and the tourism industry in the state. In October 2019 also, Lobo had remarked that casinos are an important part of tourism of Goa and cannot be removed overnight.

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Gaming

Special Team to Inspect All Goa Casinos

A special team has been formed by the state government of Goa to inspect the carrying capacity of offshore casinos in the state as per the Goa Gambling Act. The mandate of the special team also allows them to inspect onshore Star hotel casinos in Goa.

The team has been constituted after the government suffered losses in revenue due to some offshore casino operators allegedly reporting false capacities of their vessels. 

The special team will inspect Goa casinos for compliance to the conditions set under issuance of their licenses from the home department. The conditions under which operation licenses are issued to casinos ensure that the provisions of Goa Gambling Act are upheld. An official of the Home department, as reported, said that the special inspection team will check that both onshore and offshore casinos comply with the required conditions.

The inspection team will be led by Under Secretary (Home). Its other members will include officers from Commercial Taxes and Goa State Pollution Control Board, an Assistant Engineer (Public Works Department), and a police inspector of the concerned area.

This step seems imperative considering the fact that no Casino policy or regulatory mechanism has been set by Goan government, despite several promises made by the erstwhile and present Chief Ministers of Goa to make a suitable policy.

The casino industry in Goa has been around for over two decades. The state’s government has made several promises to shift offshore casinos to an alternative location and to enact a comprehensive policy for regulating casinos in the state.

In September 2019, offshore casinos were granted an extension of six month to operate in the River Mandovi till 31st March 2020, before which the state has contemplated notifying a long-term casino policy. However, considering that the state government has been dithering on introducing a casino policy and no substantial progress has been made regarding the final contours of the policy, it is likely that the offshore casinos will get a few more ad hoc extensions to remain in the Mandovi River.

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Business Gaming

Delta Corp receives Nepal Casino License

Delta Corp Limited, India’s only listed casino and hospitality company has announced that its Nepal subsidiary has been issued a license for operating a casino in the Marriott resort in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The company through a regulatory filing to the stock exchanges stated that it intends to commence casino operations in the Kathmandu property of Marriott very soon, pursuant to the lease agreement with the hotel chain. Delta Corp however did not give definitive timelines by which casino operations in the Himalayan state would commence.

In October 2017, Delta Corp had announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Everest Hospitality and Hotels Private Limited to operate a casino in the then under-construction Marriott property, which ultimately commenced its hospitality operations in July 2019.

Apart from Delta Corp, other Indian casino companies like Goa’s Pride Group as well as Sikkim’s Mahjong Group already operate casinos in Kathmandu.

Australian Stock Exchange listed Silver Heritage Group as well as Sri Lanka’s Bally’s casino group also have casino operations in Nepal.

Casinos in Nepal are mainly reliant on Indian players since local Nepalese residents are barred from entering casinos. The Nepal government is considering streamlining and updating its casino regulations and policies to enable foreign investments in the sector and boost tourism in the region.

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Business Gaming

Paytm First Games Stats for 2019: 45 Ml. Users, 485.16 Cr of Winnings and More

Paytm First Games (earlier known as Gamepind) recently released a report called Gamestats 2019, which reported various stats about their gaming app’s performance in the previous year.

As per the report, 45 million users registered on Paytm First Games app in 2019. The platform hosts around 200 games. The biggest amount won by a single Paytm First Games Winner in the year 2019 is Rs. 12.59 crores.

In 2019, the total time spent by gamers on Paytm First Games app was 7700 years, and over 72.5 crore Paytm games were played online.

The three most engaging games on Paytm First Games were Rummy, First Captains and Battle Center. Rummy and First Captains were launched on the platform in February 2019.

Rummy is one of the most popular card games in India. On Paytm First Games, Rummy was played for above 2.3 million hours last year. About 26.25 crore cards were dealt in Rummy on the platform, where Rs. 76.66 Lakhs is the biggest amount won by a single winner in the game in the year 2019. The maximum percentage shares of rummy players on the website hail from Uttar Pradesh, West bengal and Rajasthan.

The app also hosts a fantasy sports game called First Captains. The game’s most preferred captains were Virat Kohli, R. Sharma and M. Dhoni among men, and Deepti B. Sharma, Harmanpreet K. Bhullar and Smriti S. Mandhana among women. The game was played for above 2.8 million hours on the platform. IPL, WC and Kabaddi Championship were the most popular leagues. About Rs. 115 crores were won by players of First Captains in 2019. They created over 1.1 crore teams on First Captains. Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi have the highest percentage of players playing this game on Paytm First Games app.

Another popular Paytm game is Battle Center, which recorded above 43.4 million hours of play last year. An average of 23.47 hours per user were spent on the game.

Paytm quiz called Trivia recorded above 1.5 million hours of play in 2019. Last year, the quiz served 45.5 crore questions, to which 65% were answered correctly. Cricket, GK and Bollywood are popular themes on the Paytm quiz game. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra topped the list with the maximum percentage of Trivia players on Paytm First Games app.

Other casual Paytm games like Ludo, Wheel of Fortune, Tom & Jerry Maze, and Paytm pass the bomb, were played on the platform for over 18.7 million hours.

Paytm First Games is a casual and skill-based gaming platform that was first launched as Gamepind in February 2018. Alibaba-backed Chinese technology company AGTech Holdings Limited and Paytm entered a joint venture and initially invested USD 16 million in the gaming venture.

The gaming website was rebranded, in June 2019, after Paytm’s brand name.

The gaming platform recently raised another USD 20 million from Alibaba’s AGTech and Paytm’s parent company One97 Communications.

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Gaming

Puducherry on path to Legalise Casinos but LG expresses Opposition

The Union Territory of Puducherry may be on the path to legalise and permit casinos in the region after three years of dithering and deliberations.

As per media reports, although the elected government headed by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has almost made up its mind to allow casinos in the state for the purpose of promoting tourism, Lieutenant Governor (LG) Kiran Bedi has raised objections to the proposal saying that the government should keep the ‘wolf of gambling’ away from a spiritual and pristine Puducherry.

Bedi also stated that allowing casinos will impact the quality of domestic and international tourists besides causing social problems.

Narayanasamy however claimed that Bedi does not have any authority to decide on whether casinos should be allowed in the territory and added that various locations like Goa, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore have casinos to attract tourists.

He added that the LG is working with a revengeful attitude and that Puducherry is in severe need of funds and permission to allow lotteries, casinos and breweries would bolster the state exchequer.

The Chief Minister however noted that the legislative assembly will take a final decision on whether casinos and breweries will be allowed in the state or not.

Notably, the Puducherry government has been toying with the idea of allowing casinos within its territory since 2016. Narayansamy had indicated in July 2016 after assuming charge as CM that he was open to allowing offshore casinos in the UT for promoting tourism, on the lines of Goa.

State Health & Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao had also stated that the cabinet had discussed the issue and was looking at permitting casinos in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam.  A delegation of government officials from Puducherry had also proposed an official study tour to Goa to evaluate the model of allowing casinos.

Besides casinos, the Puducherry government is also likely to look at restarting sale of state lotteries within and outside the UT to augment revenues.

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Gaming

Fantasy Sports are Strategy and Skill Dominant as per IIMB-Cartesian Study Findings

A recent study by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) and Cartesian Consulting Pvt. Ltd. has concluded that fantasy sports players use strategic and skill-dominant techniques rather than relying on chance to play fantasy sports.

The study, titled ‘Fantasy Sports: A Game of Skill or Chance’, was led by Dr. U Dinesh Kumar, Professor, Decision Sciences, IIM-B and Dr Ramasubramanian Sundararajan, Head-AI, Cartesian Consulting, as reported by Indian Express.

The study used user data for three years from Dream11, the first Unicorn Club fantasy sports platform in India.

Statistical hypotheses techniques and detailed analysis of the actual and anonymised data from Dream11 was employed to conclude the presence of ‘skill dominance’ among players playing with Dream11’s format of fantasy sports.

Another important finding from the IIMB-Cartesian research is that users who select captains and vice-captains after skillfully assessing past performance of players “tend to have higher average scores than other players”.  It was inferred that when players were selected randomly, it led to lower scores. This also led to the conclusion that users’ skills improve substantially over time, as they assess past performance to make teams.

The study also highlights that players who play for money get higher scores, “proving they are playing more strategic game”.

Professor Dinesh said, “We found strong evidence that learning, consistency and strategy-based usage affect the outcome in Dream11’s format of fantasy sports. The inferences indicated that player selection has a huge influence on achieving high scores, therefore establishing that performance on the Dream11 platform is skill dominant.”  He said that multiple hypothesis techniques were applied to the ‘Skill Vs Chance’ question, which was converted into an analytics and statistics problem.

As per the professor, the case has been published in Harvard Business Review and is available across more than 410 universities in 75 countries.

Dr Sundararajan, said, “This report helps to understand how a user prepares and strategically plans his teams thereby determining the level of skill in Dream11’s format of fantasy sports.” He said that they were interested in understanding more about the sports fan engagement that can be achieved through tech innovations like fantasy sports, in this rapidly growing industry.

This study supports the rulings made by the Bombay High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the past.

Earlier this year, a division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising of Justices Bharati H. Dangre and Ranjit More, ruled fantasy sports to be a game of skill and approved Dream11’s format. The Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal against that decision and observed that there is no doubt about the skill element involved in fantasy sports.

In the year 2017, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that playing fantasy sports online does not amount to gambling and involves a substantial degree of skill.

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Gaming

MPL Releases Video Campaign with Winners of ‘Meet Virat’ Contest

Mobile Premier League (MPL) released a video campaign that features top 10 winners of their recent ‘Meet Virat’ Contest. The video campaign represents the user-centric branding of MPL.

The contest held from November 15 to November 22 required players to play any fantasy sports on the platform and win big. The top 10 winners on the leaderboard with the highest earnings got the chance to meet Virat Kohli, the current captain of the Indian cricket team, in Mumbai.

The winners of the contest hailed from all over the country⁠—Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Darbhanga (Bihar), Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh), Pune, Churu (Rajasthan)⁠.

“It was a great opportunity. To win cash and meet my idol was a wonderful experience for me,” said Akash Jain, a resident of Pune and one of the top 10 winners of the contest.

“I have been winning money on MPL consistently now. I am thankful to MPL because apart from enabling us to win money, they also give us grand opportunities like these, where we could meet such personalities,” said Satish Kumar, a winner from Faridabad, NCR.

Here’s the 90-second montage video campaign including clips of the winners from when they visited Mumbai to meet Virat on 30th November. MPL invited the players to Mumbai on a two-day all expenses paid trip.

“When we organised the contest, the idea was to reward our winners by getting them to meet and spend time with their cricketing hero. As the contest progressed, we thought it would be a great idea to have it at the centre of our new campaign. After all, MPL is all about the users and they are at the heart of everything we do. This is just our humble way of saying thank you,” said Abhishek Madhavan, VP- Growth, MPL.

“Our users are our heroes. We are thankful to them for being part of this campaign and we hope their story encourages more people to follow their dreams,” Madhavan added.

As per MPL, the platform has over 31 million registered users. They offer over 40 games that enable players to monetize their skills. The platform brings game developers and players together, as developers can launch their games on MPL and gain access to the platform’s vast user base without having to spend on customer acquisition.

MPL is known to conduct various contests and tournaments for its users. In July this year, MPL hosted MPL Chess Mahayudh, in which three professional chess players won the top three positions. The chess tournament saw a turnout of around 90,000 players and a prize pool of Rs. 11 Lakhs. India’s most recognised chess player Viswanathan Anand was the brand ambassador of the event.

The company also recently conducted an event at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad to raise awareness about mobile gaming and esports industries and about existing and potential career options available in the industry.

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Gaming

MPL Conducts Esports and Mobile Gaming Awareness Meet at IIM Ahmedabad

Leading esports and digital gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) recently conducted an event at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to raise awareness about mobile gaming and esports industry and career options in the industry.

As per a report by IFSG-KPMG, the esports industry in India is worth around INR 43.8 billion and is estimated to reach about INR 118.8 billion by the year 2023, with the GAGR of 22.1 per cent.

MPL is an online gaming platform that connects game developers to gamers. The platform was founded last year by Sai Srinivas Kiran G, an IIT Kanpur graduate, with his friend Shubham Malhotra. MPL hosts various games like chess, quiz, carrom, fantasy sports and rummy from third-party developers on a single app.

The MPL event at IIM-A was presided by a panel of renowned industry personnel including Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, MPL, Professor Amit Karna, Chairperson- Placements, IIM-A, Naman Jhawar, Head of Strategy, MPL, Deepak Ojha, Founding Editor, Talk ESport, and was moderated by Dibyojyoti Mainak, General Counsel, MPL.

The event was preceded by a presentation by Deepak Ojha, on the domestic and international esports industry. Later, the panel discussion covered a range of topics including how games of skill can be democratised by the ease of access offered by esports. The game studio and developer focus for esports platforms like MPL was also discussed.

Professor Karna highlighted potential job opportunities for management graduates in the esports industry. Students from IIM-A also raised a lot of questions on the current state of the industry in India and about the available or potential job roles in esports organisations.

“We are glad to be able to partner with esteemed institutions like IIM-A to create awareness about esports and how it presents a tremendous opportunity for India on multiple fronts like recognition, employment and monetisation,” said Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO, MPL. 

As the industry grows, the company is said to be set to actively involve student and academic community by holding events and competitions where students can present business plans, case studies, etc.

Hopefully, such activities by platforms like MPL will pave a path for a more aware academic environment, where new talent will be eager to join the esports industry, giving it a push.

In October 2019, in an interview to Glaws, MPL CEO Sai Srinivas said, ‘Esports in India and across the globe is on the cusp of a mainstream revolution. Given the global opportunities that are mushrooming, we at MPL believe India is poised to grab the chance. We need the right support system for esports players and developers alike. And MPL provides the platform for the entire system to grow on.’

‘Overall, we want to play our part in developing gaming and esports as a viable career option for developers and gamers alike,’ added Srinivas.

Earlier this year, MPL raised US$35.5 million (around Rs. 248.5 crores) in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India, Times Internet (part of the Times of India Group) and GoVentures (the investment arm of Indonesian tech startup Go-Jek).

Diverse skills are employed to operate a platform like MPL. This year, MPL acquired Pune-based engineering firm Crevise Technologies in a cash and stock deal to leverage their experience in DevOps, Machine Learning, and Full Stack Development to make MPL platform more robust, agile, and reliable for its users. 

Esports platforms, such as MPL, also create opportunities for professional gamers to make a career out of their skills. In July, MPL conducted a chess tournament called MPL Chess Mahayudh, where three professional chess players won from the prize pool of INR 11 lakh. VS Rathanvel, an 18-year old chess prodigy from Coimbatore, won the first prize of Rs. 5 Lakh. Overy 90,000 users, including grandmaster Ankit Rajpara, from Gujarat, participated in the event on the tournament day. Viswanathan Anand, a renowned Indian chess players, was the brand ambassador of the event.

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Gaming

Betting of ₹225 Crore on a Single TN Premier League Match on Betfair

The Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the BCCI has recently submitted a confidential report to the board, raising concerns about domestic T20 Leagues, highlighting betting of a sum of around Rs. 225 crore on a single small state level league match in India on the international betting website Betfair.

ACU, in its concern over betting on domestic T20 Leagues like TNPL, has even asked BCCI to consider shutting down such leagues.

The said report revealed to the board that a Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) T20 match this year between Tuti Patriots and Madurai Panthers saw betting of a whopping sum of Rs. 225 crore (approximately 24 million pounds) on betting exchange website Betfair, which incidentally geo-blocked access from Indian IP addresses earlier this year.

The report also states how Betfair, after receiving betting of such unusually high amount on a state-level Indian league, stopped taking any bets on matches involving the TNPL franchise Tuti Patriots.

As per an official of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), the co-owners of Tuti Patriots were expelled on the advice of TNCA’s internal enquiry committee, as reported by The Indian Express.

ACU is also probing a case where a Mumbai Player raised a red fald over being approached by a team owner for spot-fixing in the T20 Mumbai League.

These incidents highlight the adverse entailments of the huge illegal and unbridled sports betting industry in India, which according to some estimates is worth more than $100 billion a year. In the past, questions have been raised and bills have been introduced in the Lok Sabha regarding the regulation of sports betting in the country.

Last year in July, the Law Commission of India submitted a Report titled ‘Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India’  to the government, recommending making match fixing and sporting fraud criminal offences with stringent penalties. On a progressive note, the panel also suggested that an effective ban cannot be put on betting and gambling, then the parliament or state legislatures should consider legalising it with a strict regulatory framework and guidelines.

Based on these recommendations by the Law Commission, in December 2018, Congress MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill titled ‘Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018’  in the Lok Sabha to regulate sports betting and penalise match fixing. This bill aimed at preventing and penalising sports fraud in domestic and international events and overseeing and permitting online sports gaming through an effective regulatory and licensing framework.

So far, the cabinet’s response on this subject has unanimously noted that “Betting and Gambling” are State subjects and that individual state governments are free to take a decision on this matter.

A few months back, in an interview to Deccan Herald, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that, ‘We have always had a major crackdown on gambling. Whenever we are aware of it, we don’t allow it. But I agree that some cases remain off the hook. The ministry will have to consult different States before taking a call on this. The scenarios are different in different States.’

In the Lok Sabha, a few months back, when asked whether the government intends to ban online betting websites, Union Minister for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad stated that “Betting and Gambling” are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to betting and gambling through their law enforcement machinery.

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Gaming

Building of the Fantasy Sports Platform ‘Team Plan’ in Bangladesh

As fantasy sports are gaining prominence in India with Dream11’s huge growth in the market, the neighbouring country Bangladesh is also all set to cater to its sports fan interested in fantasy sports gaming.

Recently, a Bangaladesh-based fantasy platform called Team Plan was launched by the makers of TOTA Fantasy.

Sanzar Adnan Alam, the founder of Team Plan, shared his journey with Futurestartup.com.

As per the interview, Sanzar hails from a business background and has a Masters in Cyber Security from Stevens Institute of Technology, USA. After dabbling with the development of a C2C marketplace, Sanzar started to work on the idea of a fantasy platform in the year 2014.

He is a Manchester United fan, which hooked him to English Premier League and then, eventually, to Fantasy Premier League.

In 2017, Sanzar set up an IT company, where they materialized the idea of developing a local fantasy sports app. They started with creating an app for English Premier League 2018-2019, where players could make teams to win weekly mobile recharge. 

Later, during 2019 IPL, a telecom giant partnered with their firm to create a fantasy sports app for IPL 2019, to which they received excellent user response.

With the experience gathered with such projects, Sanzar launched Team Play on May 30th 2019 before Cricket World Cup. 

Now, their platform covers various tournaments of cricket and football. They host both free and paid contests. Through the app, they wish to offer Bangladesh’s avid sports fans a platform to win money by using their sports knowledge.

The platform charges 15-20% commission, at present, from its paid contests. Their small team of five engages is focussed to run and grow Team Play. With their combined interest and knowledge of sports and gaming, their team has made a user-friendly platform that is scalable.

Team Play is currently using both online and offline channels to market the games. They also have a great referral program that is contributing to the growth of the platform. Team Play is also marketed through University and College events.

They are in the process of raising seed funding for their startup. The team is also working hard to educate the market, regulatory bodies, investors and payment partners in Bangladesh about the skill-based nature of the fantasy sports.

In his parting note, Sanzar leaves a piece of advice for new founders, “Get ready to be alone, lose old friends and make new friends. Be patient as it will help you to get past your tough periods to welcome the good times. Last but not least, never give up! Take the plunge and persist. Anything is possible if you persevere!”