Business Gaming

Delta Corp, Pride Group Contribute Rs. 51 Lakhs each for Goa’s Fight Against COVID-19

Goa’s leading casino operators, Delta Corp (Deltin Group) and Pride Casino Group have contributed Rs. 51 lakhs each to the Goa Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to support the state government’s fight against COVID-19.

Delta Corp’s President-Operations Anil Malani and Pride Group’s Managing Director Shrinivas Nayak handed over cheques of Rs. 51 lakhs each to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant yesterday.

Both Malani and Nayak added that besides the contribution, both their groups are taking care of the medications, medical devices, food and ration supplies of around 7,000 employees of the casino industry in Goa as well as police personnel and other stranded persons in the state.

Nayak stressed that this is not the time for the casino industry to calculate the losses caused due to the shutdown of all casinos in the state and that it is important to provide all possible support the efforts of the state government.

He noted that the Pride Group will support the government even if a further shutdown of casinos is ordered, beyond the 21-day national lockdown period that is ending on 14th April, 2020, if it is required in the interest of public health.

He further added that the Pride Group has paid full salary to all its employees for the month of March 2020 and would try to continue to do so even if the shutdown period of the casino industry in the state is extended beyond 14th April.

Commenting on the COVID-19 situation in the state and Delta Corp’s humanitarian efforts, the company’s chairman, Jaydev Mody stated, “We, at Deltin, have pledged our support in Goa’s fight against the coronavirus disease. These are challenging times for all and many remain vulnerable to the COVID-19. Deltin Group believes in creating awareness amongst general public about the pandemic and providing humanitarian aid to the needy. We are all in this together and the need of the hour is to watch each other’s back. Also, I would personally like to thank everyone on the frontlines working to combat COVID-19.”


Baazi Group announces PokerBaazi Live room at Pride 2 casino in Goa

Leading online poker site PokerBaazi has announced that it will be operating a poker room in partnership with the Pride Group of casinos. The new card room, christened as the ‘PokerBaazi Live Room’, will be operating on Level 2 of the new Casino Pride 2 offshore casino vessel in Goa.

For this venture, Baazi has tied up with Madhav Gupta, who operates online poker website Baadshah Gaming and has been associated with Pride 1 casino’s poker room for a long time.

It is understood, that as part of the arrangement, Gupta will cease operating the poker room at the Pride 1 casino and will instead, collaborate with PokerBaazi for the poker room in the Pride 2 vessel.

Commenting on the announcement, PokerBaazi CEO Navkiran Singh noted, “I want to bring the same levels of excitement for players to enjoy the game in the live circuit, as they have been doing online. Plus, we have Maddy (Madhav Gupta) aka ‘Goa ka Daddy’ on board which only makes this all the more exciting and fun! We are thrilled to be launching the PokerBaazi LIVE room aboard the new Pride 2 ship – which is truly a spectacular venue. Players can definitely expect some big live events over the next year or so.”

Gupta added, “I am very excited to announce what I feel will be the next catalyst for Indian Poker. The pride poker room has been a pet project of mine for the last decade and I believe that with the combination of India’s premier poker site and our years of great service live we can extend the goalpost of what will be offered to players.”

PokerBaazi has stated that it will be announcing cash game festivals and international tournament series onboard the Pride 2 casino in the coming few months.

Read more about offline and online poker in India.


Goa Minister alleges migrant casino employees added on voter list; claims Pride Casino MD Shrinivas Nayak may contest polls

Rohan Khaunte, the Information Technology, Labour and Revenue Minister of Goa has stated that around 820 casino employees of the Pride Group were enrolled as voters in the Porvorim constituency at the behest of the casino lobby.

Khaunte, a two term independent MLA from the Porvorim area claimed that voters from Mizoram, Manipur and even Nepal were added on the voter list in his constituency illegally, since they were also registered as voters in their home state.

He filed a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa seeking deletion of the names of the migrant casino employees. He stated that the casino employees were enrolled from the same IP address at the behest of Pride Group Managing Director Shrinivas Nayak.

Khaunte further alleged that Nayak harbours political ambitions and wishes to contest elections in Goa, due to which he is creating his own vote bank by adding his employees to the voting list.

Shrinivas Nayak while speaking to Times of India however denied Khaunte’s allegations and stated that he does not have any political ambitions and was merely conducting a voters’ awareness drive for his employees.

Most employees who had filed their voter registrations in Goa however seem to have now given a written affidavit to the mamlatdar’s office seeking deletion of their names from the voting rolls.

In a related development, Not for Profit Organisation Rising Goans has stated that it will be holding a Mashaal (Flame Torch) rally in Goa to protest against offshore casinos in the state on 13th April.  The body members would gather at Azad Maidan in Panaji and march to the offshore casinos with mashaals to mark their protest against casinos operating in the state,

The group accused successive state governments of increasing the number of offshore casinos in the Mandovi river and claimed that the lure of gambling has destroyed many families.

The not for profit president Shailendra Velingkar has also claimed that the government has neither kept its promise of appointing a Gaming Commissioner and barring Goans from playing in the casinos nor come up with a comprehensive Casino Policy to regulate the industry.


Baadshah Gaming raises second round of funding, to spend Rs. 15 crore on marketing this year

Online skill-gaming startup Oceanking Software Solutions LLP, the entity that operates Baadshah Gaming, has raised an undisclosed second round of funding, that was led by its founder and CEO Madhav Gupta. As per the company’s press release, the funding was done internally by Gupta and Pride Group.

In the first round, Pride Group had invested an undisclosed amount in the LLP for a 30% stake. Baadshah Gaming has stated that it will use the funds raised to enhance the existing product and strengthen its live gaming properties Baadshah Live Tournaments (BLT) and Baadshah Live Poker Room at Casino Pride.

Presently, the Baadshah Gaming website is not working and undergoing maintenance. According to the management, a new and improved version of the website and mobile app will be launched on 8th June. The company said  added that a total of 15 crore will be used for digital marketing spends for the current year.

Commenting on the funding, Rahul Khetrapal, promoter of Pride Group of casinos said, “The team at Baadshah comes with a combined expertise of over 50 years. With such a strong leadership at the helm and robust offline operations, we believe that Baadshah Gaming has the potential to emerge as one of the leading players in the online skill-based gaming market in India. We hare happy to partner with the company and be a part of their growth story.”

“With the advent of mobile phones, the online gaming industry has seen an explosive growth in the past few years. We at Baadshah are focused on building a top-notch gaming experience that brings the thrills and credibility of the live gaming arena out onto the virtual world. The new infusion of funds comes at a right time that will help us achieve our vision of providing a smooth, safe, transparent, credible and seriously fun gaming platform for all the players” said Gupta.

Gupta added that Baadshah Gaming, which will be offering poker, rummy and fantasy sports, has shifted their offices from Mumbai to Goa to ‘further strengthen our position as a true click and mortar business’.

Business Gaming

License fee hike impact: 2 onshore Goa casinos shut shop, 1 more forced to shut down

Weeks after the Goa government drastically hiked recurring annual license fees payable by onshore and offshore casinos by almost 400%, at least three onshore casinos have shut down operations, citing inability to pay the increased levies.

The Crown Casino in  Hotel Crown and Carnival Casino in Marriott Hotel shut down operations last month due to the almost four fold increase in license fees, which has been described by the industry as harsh and draconian.

Further, the state government also shut down Casino Strike in Grand Hyatt Hotel yesterday after the company that operated the gaming house failed to pay the annual license fees within the deadline. Incidentally, Strike Casino was the biggest onshore casino in Goa until its closure.

As per news reports, the Strike Casino management failed to pay the revised license fees even within the extended deadline period of 8th May, after which the government was compelled to shut down the casino. News reports indicate that so far, five offshore and seven onshore casinos have paid the revised license fees.

One of the offshore casino operators, Gopal Kanda-backed Golden Globe Hotels Pvt. Ltd. (the company that operates the recently opened Big Daddy casino) has approached the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court seeking relaxation in the license fees and permission to pay the license fees in installments.

A division bench of Justices Prithviraj Chavan and NM Jamdar declined to grant interim relief to the company but noted that the petitioner could approach the vacation court for appropriate relief if a show cause notice is issued to it. The court has now posted the matter for hearing on 6th June.

Earlier, a bunch of casino operators had made a representation to the state government seeking reduction in the license fee hike but government officials had refused to concede to their demands.

The increase in license fee and closure of few casinos may result in consolidation of the gaming industry in the state and only a few operators may be able to survive and flourish.


Pride Casino promoter, ZDream Ventures invest in social betting startup Cricnwin

Promoter of Pride Group of Casinos, Rahul Khetrapal, Chinese venture fund ZDream Ventures and angel investors Ankush Nijhawan, Gaurav Bhatnagar and Manish Dhingra, have invested an undisclosed amount in Gurugram-based social gaming platform Cricnwin in a seed funding round, as per a news report in VCCircle.

Cricnwin is a social gaming app that  has more than 250,000 users with around 15,000 daily active users. The app offers users an opportunity to play in prediction games, quizzes, fantasy leagues and other interactive games. The mobile app also has live scores, news and other content relating to cricket.

The app rewards users winning points with vouchers of Paytm and Amazon. While the app is free-to-play for customers, Cricnwin earns  its revenues through media sales, in-app purchases and commissions received on voucher redemption.

Cricnwin co-founder Venus Dhuria said the company plans to use the fresh capital for product development and market expansion.

“We are also planning to launch the platform in Hindi soon along with expansion in 10 major cricket playing countries” said another co-founder Vipul Agarwal.

Khetrapal is an active angel investor and has earlier invested in ventures like Kaama Breweries Pvt. Ltd., which sells craft beer under the brand name Witlinger.

Pride Group, which operates casinos in Goa and Nepal, is the promoter of real-money online poker, rummy and fantasy sports website Baadshah Gaming.

Business Legal & Regulatory

Baadshah Gaming becomes first poker website to restrict players from Gujarat

Online skill-gaming website Baadshah Gaming, which is backed by the Pride Group of casinos, has stopped accepting players from Gujarat for its real-money online poker games. The move comes in response to the 4th December order of the Gujarat High Court that ruled poker is a game of chance.

Baadshah Gaming, put up the following notice on its poker games page that stated that residents of Gujarat are not allowed to play poker on its platform in light of the decision of the Gujarat High Court in Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd. & Others v. State of Gujarat & Others. The notice further requested players residing and/or accessing the website in Gujarat to not play poker on their platform.

Commenting on the decision, Baadshah Gaming CEO Madhav Gupta said, “We at Baadshah Gaming will continue to abide by the rules of the land. Since the latest order from the Gujarat High Court, we have suspended poker operations in the state. While we will miss our Gujarat players it is our responsibility to always be legally compliant. We do hope for a quick resolution of this matter and hope that those players also get an ability to showcase their skills in the future.

Gupta added that accounts of any players found playing poker from Gujarat on Baadshah Gaming would be suspended. He also said that the deposits of existing players from Gujarat would be refunded.

Baadshah Gaming is the first skill-gaming website to have taken cognisance of the order of the Gujarat High Court and restrict players from accessing real money games from Gujarat.

A single judge bench of the Gujarat High Court had on 4th December ruled that poker is not a game of skill. The court also observed that even playing a game of skill, where betting and wagering is involved would fall within the ambit of gambling.

Business Gaming

Delta Corp signs MoU to operate casino in Nepal

India’s largest gaming company, Delta Corp Ltd., has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nepalsese company, Everest Hospitality and Hotel Pvt. Ltd. to operate a casino in the upcoming Marriott Hotel in the Naxal area of Kathmandu, reported Nepalese news outlet Republica.

“Implementing the Marriott brand standards, designed by renowned architects and utilizing the best construction companies, the hotel consists of state of the art services including spa, casino, and variety of restaurants, swimming pool, gym, exclusive suites and lounges” a statement by Everest Hospitality and Hotel, which is part of the leading  Nepalese business conglomerate MS Group said.

The 235-room Marriott Hotel is still under construction and is expected to start operations from June next year. MS Group’s first hotel, Thamel-based Fairfield by Marriott, started operations in March this year.

Delta Corp in a press release issued yesterday confirmed the development and noted:

Delta Corp has entered into a MoU with Everest Hospitality and Hotel (P) Ltd for leasing space at the upcoming five star Marriott Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal to operate a casino.

Delta will initiate steps to obtain a license from the Government of Nepal and the commencement of operations of the casino will be subject to receipt of this license.

With this proposed casino in Kathmandu, Delta aims to expand its imprint outside India, in line with its strategy of expanding in the region.

Another Indian casino operator, the Pride Group already operates a casino in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal since 2015. International gaming operator Silver Heritage Group has also launched a casino resort called ‘Tiger Palace Resort’ in the Bhairahawa area of Nepal. While the hotel and resort have already commenced operations, the casino is slated to open in the last week of November.

Business Gaming

Baadshah Gaming ties up with Mojo Games, Mercury Gaming out of proposed poker network

Baadshah Gaming, a poker and fantasy sports portal has entered into a strategic partnership with Mojo Interactive Services India Private Ltd, a subsidiary of Canadian gaming software provider Mojo Games, for their poker solution, as per the latter’s press release.

Commenting on the development, Madhav Gupta, Co-Founder, Baadshah Gaming said, “We are very excited to be working with Mojo and chose to partner with them for their advanced iGaming platform and poker solutions. After considering several options, the Mojo solution was a clear winner as it gives us a lot of flexibility and allows for seamless integration of our proprietary products. We look forward to growing our online gaming network with Mojo Games.”

Baadshah Gaming is operated by Oceanking Software Solutions LLP, which is promoted by poker operator Madhav Gupta. It is understood that certain shareholders of Pride Group of casinos have also invested in the venture in their personal capacity.

Mojo Games’ earlier press release had stated that it had formed a poker network with  Essel Group company Mercury Gaming Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (which operates Mercury Poker) and Baadshah Gaming. However, it now appears that Mercury Poker is no longer going to be part of the Mojo Games-led poker network and is instead going to be part of the Microgaming-led Indian Poker Network.

Gupta confirmed that Baadshah Gaming is the only website being serviced by Mojo Games at the moment. He however did not rule out the possibility of co-opting other websites as part of a poker network at a later stage.