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Taking a tough stance against illegal gambling, a two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court issued notices to the Central government, the state government of UP, and operators of Chinese websites while hearing a PIL on the said subject.
The first bench of the Madras High Court had passed a landmark judgment early this month, striking down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 that criminalized and banned real-money online gaming in the state. Earlier this week, the court’s Madurai Bench stated it expects the Tamil Nadu government to introduce a new law prohibiting online gaming within six months. The divisional bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and K Pugazhendhi made the statement during the hearing of a PIL submitted by Advocate S Muthukumar against online gaming.
Russia-headquartered online gaming software company EvenBet has started offering the increasingly popular card game “Call Break,” the latest of 35 card titles in its portfolio, to Indian operators. The strategic game is considered a game of skill by experts, and the software company will be looking to take advantage of the first-mover advantage with this launch. The game was recently rolled out on the popular Indian platforms MPL and Faboom.
India’s gaming self-regulatory body, All India Gaming Association (AIGF), has appointed former senior bureaucrat PK Misra as President of the AIGF Advisory Players’ Association.
Dream Sports, the parent company of fantasy gaming behemoth Dream11, has acquired the Pune-based mobile game developer, Rolocule Games. The latter will now be rebranded as Dream Game Studios and will continue to develop interactive games with the company`s founder, Rohit Gupta, at the helm.
Online gaming firm Zupee raised $30 Million (₹223 Crores) in a Series B Funding Round led by the Silicon Valley-based WestCap Group and Tomales Bay Capital, at a pre-money valuation of $500 Million.
Moving over to international news, the NBS Sports Network is broadcasting the 2021 US Poker Open (USPO) through weekly shows every Monday in August.
Allahabad HC Asks Central & UP Govts to Respond to PIL Against Online Gambling
A fresh Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking a ban on online gambling and online sites offering games of chance.
In response, a two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court issued notices to the Union and the state governments, seeking their response on the matter. The court has also issued notices to executives of websites owned by Chinese nationals.
Hearing the petition submitted by social worker SS Tripathi, Allahabad High Court Chief Justice`s Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Rajendra Kumar affixed the matter to be heard on September 15.
The petitioner submitted how close to 500 online gambling websites were offering services in India with games like the color predicting game where a player has to place a bet to win a larger amount. Players are required to guess the outcome of the color or combination of numbers within the window that opens every three minutes. The petitioner alleged such websites are designed such that players first win easily and get hooked to the game. That`s when the sites begin to manipulate the results, thereby duping the players out of their money.
Tripathi’s counsel, Shashank Shri Tripathi, said: “Chinese citizens own such gambling websites. These websites are usually controlled by Chinese servers and are a planned scheme of fraud.”
Madurai Bench Expects Tamil Nadu Government to Frame New Law Banning Online Gaming in Six Months
On Tuesday, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court stated that they expect the state government to enact a new law banning online games within six months. The court made the statement during the hearing of a petition filed by S Muthukumar, an advocate from Madurai, seeking a blanket ban on online rummy.
On August 3, the first bench of the Madras High Court had struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021, calling it ‘excessive and disproportionate.’ The next day, State Law Minister S. Regupathy issued a statement that public interest was more important than regulating real money online gaming. He made the government’s intentions clear, stating that a law banning online games like rummy would be tabled soon following due procedures and specifying valid reasons to avoid legal complications in the future.
On almost similar lines, the petitioner S Muthukumar in his petition, wants the court to ban online games like rummy. In his petition, Muthukumar stated how several youngsters had become addicted to online rummy during the lockdown. This, in turn, has affected their health and even led to cases of suicide.
A division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice K Pugazhendhi said the government in Tamil Nadu acted swiftly and imposed a ban on online rummy. The bench observed that the State Law minister also reiterated through media personnel that the government would enforce the prohibition approving guidelines earlier.
EvenBet Gaming Enters Indian Market With New Game ‘Call Break’
While the online gaming sector in southern India is still on dodgy grounds, this hasn’t deterred international companies from venturing into the country with game offerings. The latest entrant in the B2B segment is online gaming software developer EvenBet Gaming.
The company, on August 19, launched the in-demand card game ‘Call Break’ on several popular Indian online gaming portals such as MPL and Faboom. The latter is owned by the online poker site Adda52, a subsidiary of Delta Corp.
‘Call Break,’ according to the press release shared by Evenbet, is a strategic skill-based game played with a 52-card deck. The cards are evenly distributed among four players who declare the number of hands they expect to win. Each player contributes one card of the same color suit to a hand during their turn, with the highest card winning that hand. When all cards are used, each player’s points are evaluated based on the accuracy of their calls.
Operators are claiming the game is legal to play online in India. The game has already received a lot of interest across South Asia, particularly in India and Nepal.
At the launch of the new game, CEO at EvenBet Gaming Dmitry Starostenkov said, “Call Break by EvenBet is a unique card game that can help operators attract a whole new demographic of players. Industry analysts believe Call Break has every chance of becoming one of the three most played skill-based games in Asia, alongside rummy and poker, so making it available through our platform is hugely important. Now that we can provide all these three offerings, we expect our software to meet all the Asian gaming companies’ demands; operators ready to deliver all the most popular skill-based card games will get a notable advantage in these markets. As a forward-thinking developer, we are quick to respond to market trends, and this is the latest example of how EvenBet helps operators to increase their user engagement rates through quality content.”
Sharing his views on the growth of skill-based games in India, Starostenkov further added, “Some surveys show that at least 40% of Internet users in India play online games for money, and about 80% of adults make one or more bets every year. The black gambling market continues to grow, but at the same time, skill-based games offer players legal and sometimes even more exciting alternatives to have fun. Daily fantasy sports, rummy, poker, and now Call Break are becoming core offers of the new generation of multi-game platforms, which, in my opinion, will become the future of this rapidly growing market.”
Jay Sayta, an expert on gambling laws and a technology lawyer, is the legal advisor for EvenBet Gaming in India. Reiterating Starostenkov’s sentiments on skill-based gaming in India, Sayta said, “The skill-based gaming industry has been making inroads in India for a while, and the recent developments provide a further boost. The recent EY-AIGF report states that the skill-gaming industry will grow at a formidable CAGR and will be worth $2 billion by 2023. This will provide an enormous opportunity to a lot of stakeholders in the industry.”
AIGF Appoints PK Misra as President of Player’s Association
India’s first and only gaming regulatory body, the All India Gaming Association (AIGF), has strengthened its fold by bringing in former senior bureaucrat PK Misra as President of the AIGF Advisory Players’ Association.
The Players’ Association has the charter to work closely with AIGF’s member companies and its governing council with the larger perspective of monitoring education and educational steps on gaming, protection, and grievance redressal.
A former Steel Secretary, Misra is an IAS officer of the 1976 batch from the UP cadre. He has held positions like the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor to the Home Ministry.
As someone who has an insider’s experience of the Indian bureaucratic machinery, Misra is expected to work as a force multiplier for AIGF’s efforts towards offering a regulatory mechanism for the gaming industry.
In a statement on the new appointment, Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF, said that Misra’s stature and experience would help guide AIGF to bring in greater focus and efficacy in its efforts. “His guidance will provide impetus to the industry and ensure transparency and sustained clarity on policy.”
Talking about his new role, PK Misra stressed how the Indian gaming sector is proliferating. He underlined that he is looking forward to being part of the Advisory Panel of judges, sportsmen/women, and the intelligentsia, with a special focus on the Players’ Association. “I am also very keen on progressing AIGF’s Charter and ensuring that growth is inclusive and monitored regularly.”
Misra’s appointment comes a little over a year after the AIGF onboarded former Super Court Justice Vikramjit Sen, educationalist Fatema Agarkar and former captain of the national women’s cricket team Jhulan Goswami to its Advisory panel.
The AIGF plans to sign up several other industry experts soon.
Dream Sports Acquires Pune-Based Rolocule Games
Mumbai-based Dream Sports has acquired the Pune-based mobile game developer Rolocule Games. Founded by Rohit Gupta in 2010, Rolocule Games is backed by top investors like Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels, and CIIE. The company develops premium interactive gaming experiences for mobile users, and some of its popular offerings include Flick Tennis, Dance Party, and Bowling Central.
Even after the change of ownership, Rohit Gupta will continue to head the company that is to be rebranded to Dream Game Studios.
Co-founder and CEO of Dream Sports, Harsh Jain, sharing his views on the acquisition, said Dream Sports’ fast-growing user base included 125 million sports fans. “We recognize the great growth opportunities in sports, gaming, and fitness-tech in India. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we are here to back other entrepreneurs through Dream Capital and provide them with access to our 125 million-strong user base and operational support from our expert team of CXOs.”
Zupee Raises $30 Million (₹223 Crores) in Series B Funding
Skill-based online gaming firm Zupee has raised $30 Million (₹223 Crores) in a Series B Funding Round led by the Silicon Valley-based WestCap Group and Tomales Bay Capital. Other top investors who participated in the funding round include Matrix Partners India and Orios Venture Partners.
The investment was made at a pre-money valuation of $500 Million. Zupee was founded by IIT Kanpur graduates Dilsher Singh and Siddhant Saurabh.
Talking about the investment, Dilsher Singh said, “Games inherently celebrate the journey and nurture self-expression. That’s what I am committed to building with Zupee — an organisation that enables people anywhere in the world to enhance their intrinsic happiness through games.”
The company offers innovative gaming formats of several popular board games. It plans to use the funds to expand its product portfolio and market reach as well as to hire global talent.
2021 US Poker Open is Airing on the NBC Sports Network in August
There is good news for poker fans. All the exciting high roller action of the 2021 US Poker Open (USPO) is being aired on the NBS Sports Network (NBCSN) every Monday all through August. The first show aired on August 16, and the remaining two will be broadcasted on August 23 and 30. NBC is no stranger to hosting poker events.
The broadcaster has produced and broadcasted the annually-hosted NBC National Heads-Up Championship from 2005 to 2013. In 2017, NBCSN signed up a broadcasting deal with Poker Central.
Last year, both companies renewed the multi-year contract till 2022. President of PokerGO, Mori Eskandani, said, “PokerGO is pleased to take its partnership with Global Poker to the next level. With the online US Poker Open series on Global Poker running alongside the premiere episodes on NBC Sports Networks, poker enthusiasts will have an elevated viewing experience that includes being able to both watch and play the US Poker Open at the same time.”