Online gaming sector bats for one regulator

The online gaming industry has asked the government think tank NITI Aayog to set up a single, self-regulatory body to standardise regulations governing the entire online skill gaming industry, instead of just fantasy sports.

The recommendation follows a draft report titled ‘Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India’ wherein the NITI Aayog has suggested the setting up a single, self-regulatory body for fantasy sports.

“The size of India’s online skill gaming industry is estimated at about ₹5,250 crore, according to KPMG,” said Sameer Barde, CEO, The Online Rummy Federation (TORF), the self-regulatory body for the country’s online rummy industry, said. The fast-growing skill-based games like Rummy account for approximately 50% of the overall industry revenue. “Fantasy sports is a part of the overall skill gaming industry.”

The Supreme Court has consistently held that skill games are legitimate and constitutionally protected commercial activities that can be played or organized for gain and profit, the TORF said in a statement.

Vaibhav Kakkar, partner at L&L Partners, said, “The Supreme Court has since the 1960s distinguished games of skills from gambling and upheld the constitutional right to play and offer such games of skill. Once a game is determined to be a game of skill, its legality is undeniable and so is its ability to be played or organied for profit or gain.”

Meanwhile, Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and CEO, Games24x7, said that the online skill gaming industry has tremendous potential to provide a healthy, responsible form of entertainment. The broader skill gaming industry has been attracting a lot of foreign investment from aggressive global players like Sequoia, Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Raine Capital, Clairvest, Westbridge Capital, Kalaari Capital, Bennett Coleman, Blume Ventures, and Kae Capital, to name a few, he added.

“Over ₹5,000 crore in foreign investments have already come into the country in the overall skill gaming industry, with over 10 non-fantasy sports companies having successfully raised capital. In comparison, only two fantasy sports players have attracted FDI,” Mr. Pandya added.

Skill games include games such as pool, carrom, quiz games, and rummy.

The industry body said that NITI Aayog’s draft paper should include the broader skill gaming industry and standardizing rules and regulations for India’s entire skill gaming industry will ensure that the tens of millions of players in India get service from responsible operators.

“It will eliminate the vast number of illegal and unscrupulous operators that are now serving the Indian market. This move will help generate over ₹10,000 crore in direct and indirect taxes annually for the government by 2025, and create thousands of jobs through direct and indirect employment,” it said.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:41:18 PM |

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