Categories
Business

Sequoia Capital & others invest $5 million in skill gaming mobile app MPL

Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital has led a US$5 million (around Rs. 35.1 crore) Series A funding round in Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd., the company that operates digital skill gaming startup app Mobile Premier League (MPL).

As per an exclusive report in VCCircle, Sequoia Capital led the funding round and some other existing angel investors also participated in the exercise. The funds will be used by MPL to expand its operations and build its product.  The valuation at which the company received the funding has not been revealed.

Founded by technology entrepreneurs Sai Srinivas Kiran Garimella and Shubham Malhotra, MPL allows users to participate in tournaments of various skill games such as fruit chop, monster truck, space breaker, sudoku etc.

Users are awarded real cash for winning the tournament and winners can immediately cash out their prizes through Paytm, UPI or bank transfer.

MPL claims to be the largest real-money mobile e-sports platform in the world and according to Google Playstore, the MPL app has been downloaded more than 1 million times.

At present, users can participate in the MPL tournaments using tokens and it is understood that players do not have to deposit own entry fees to participate in the games, although it is not clear whether this would continue be the business model of the company, going forward.

Apart from mobile games, several other startups have started offering real money quiz contests and other puzzle-based games for real money under the skill gaming category. In 2014, Sequoia Capital had invested around $15 million in a Series A funding round in  another mobile teenpatti and social gaming company, Octro.

Categories
Gaming

RummyCircle to start horse betting website TurfBets

Exclusive Play Games24x7 Pvt. Ltd., the company that operates leading rummy website RummyCircle, will be launching a new real money betting website focused on International horse racing in the next few days.

The website, called ‘turfbets.com’ is registered under the name of Play Games24x7 Pvt. Ltd Mumbai. As per an exclusive invitational preview link accessed by Glaws, the website TurfBets will aim to give customers based in India the best horse betting experience with races from North America, United Kingdom and France. The website further states that customers can play different races from different countries, sitting right here in India. Further, TurfBets can stream hundreds of races per day through our exclusive video player.

The services provided by the website include allowing users to place bets on live international races, providing live stream of the races and providing historical information about the performance of each horse and other race conditions.

The website is expected to start its services, initially limited to a closed group of 1000 people within the next four days. TurfBet further states that players from Assam, Odisha and Telangana are not allowed to play online horse races for prizes, given that these states do not allow games of skill for stakes.

The promoters of RummyCircle seem to have taken advantage of the fact that the Supreme Court in a judgment in Dr. KR Lakhsmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu in the year 1996 ruled that horse racing, like rummy, is a game of skill and betting and wagering on the same would consequently not fall within the ambit of gambling.

It however remains to be seen whether the innovative model adopted by RummyCircle promoters to use observations made by the Supreme Court to conduct online betting on foreign horse races will fall into any legal troubles.

Categories
Legal & Regulatory

Gujarat HC poker proceedings adjourned once again, matter to be listed on 15th October

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul M. Pancholi once again adjourned a clutch of petitions relating to the legality of the game of poker. The letters patent appeals filed by KN Suresh; Hotel Ramada Ahmedabad; Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd.; Aman Chabbra and others were not heard and are now slated to come up for arguments on 15th October, 2018.

The original proceedings were initiated by Indian Poker Association (IPA) secretary KN Suresh in 2017 before a single judge bench of the Gujarat High Court. Suresh, in his petition had claimed that police had in an unwarranted manner interfered in the game of poker conducted at YMCA club and further that the police was wrong in giving a written response that poker is a game of chance.

On 4th December 2017, a single judge bench of the High Court comprising of Justice Rajesh Shukla, while deciding on petitions filed by Suresh and eleven other interested parties, ruled that the game of poker does not involve skill and falls within the ambit of gambling.

Subsequently, Suresh and other parties filed a letters patent appeal before a two-judge bench of the High Court challenging the single judge’s order. The hearing on the appeals have since then not seen substantial progress and have been adjourned without significant arguments on at least ten occasions.  The matter was once again not heard yesterday and adjourned to next month.

It now remains to be seen whether the arguments will be heard on 15th October or if there will be further delays in deciding the matter.

Categories
Legal & Regulatory Poker

Bombay HC rules poker to be a game of chance

In a surprising ruling, a division bench of the Bombay High Court ruled that playing the game of poker amounts to gambling and is a game of pure chance, as per a report in DNA.

A division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices RM Sawant and Sarang Kotwal observed that poker cannot be a game of skill as a player simply gets the cards according to chance and the player who gets better cards wins.

According to media reports, the bench further noted: “We have perused the description of the game, we find that it is not a game of skill but of pure chance. Prima facie we find that a case under the gambling act has been made out.”

The court accordingly  refused to quash the FIR under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act filed by the Goregaon police against The Spartan Poker head of operations, Nasir Patel, who was allegedly found playing poker in a private apartment in 2016. The High Court had earlier stayed filing of chargesheet against Patel on the grounds that the copy of the petition served by Patel’s lawyer on the public prosecutor was not legible.

Patel in his petition has made a threefold argument seeking quashing of the FIR which names him as an accused. The first argument raised by him is that the game of poker was being played amongst friends in a private premises for entertainment purposes only, without any money or stakes.

Secondly, he pleaded that no license or permission is required for playing poker in a private premises amongst friends and that there was no law or rule violated in playing the game of poker. The third argument raised is that poker is a game of skill, exempt from the ambit of gambling under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act.

His lawyer Ram Mani Upadhyay also submitted that the game of poker has been recognised by the High Courts of Karnataka and Calcutta. The public prosecutor on the other hand relied on the order of the single judge of the Gujarat High Court that ruled poker to be a game of chance that fell within the ambit of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act.

A copy of the order and the exact ruling of the court has not been published yet. The decision of the court is however certainly going to be a huge setback for poker in India as it comes months after the Gujarat High Court’s judgement (which is now in appeal before a division bench of the same court).

Categories
Legal & Regulatory

Gujarat HC fixes 28th February as next date of hearing of poker appeal

The division bench of the Gujarat High Court heard the Letters Patent Appeal concerning the legality of poker and whether the game involves a substantial degree of skill for over half an hour today.

Subramonium Prasad, the senior counsel representing Indian Poker Association (IPA) Secretary KN Suresh noted that the order of the single judge was erroneous as it was based on a wrong understanding of the game and did not properly interpret the existing legal provisions.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Vipul M. Pancholi noted that three other letters patents appeals arising from the same matter have also been filed but have been listed for hearing tomorrow.

The bench noted that there ought to be a combined hearing of all the matters arising out of the order of the single bench dated 4th December, 2017 and hence fixed the date of final hearing of all matters arising out of the order of the single bench on 28th February, 2018. The division bench also stated that any delay in filing the Letters Patent Appeal by any of the parties would be condoned.