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We’re just back from a crackling Durga Puja and Dusshera festivities, with some hot gaming sector updates for you. The legality of online gaming in Meghalaya has blown out of proportion as the Joint Action Committee Against Casinos (JACAC) has now launched a signature campaign in Ri Bhoi district, demanding the repeal of the Meghalaya Gaming Act, 2021. On the other hand, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has discounted the possibility of the government stepping back by repealing the Act.
On Monday, October 3, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) issued an advisory to OTT platforms, digital publishers, and TV channels, asking them not to show advertisements promoting online betting sites. The government said online betting poses a significant socio-economic and financial risk for consumers. Online betting platforms or news websites are not registered under any legal authority in India.
More developments have taken place in the E-Nuggets online gaming app fraud investigations. Basis inputs and interrogation of the app owner Aamir Khan, Kolkata police have issued a notice for Khan’s alleged partner-in-crime, Dubai-baed businessman Shubhojit Srimani.
In Delhi, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) apprehended the directors of Betrue Ecom Solutions Ltd for involvement in illegal online sports betting and gambling in tandem with the Philippines-based online portal, Dafasports.
JACAC in Meghalaya Launches Signature Campaign Demanding Repeal of Meghalaya Gaming Act 2021
As announced, the Joint Action Committee Against Casinos (JACAC) has launched a signature campaign in Ri Bhoi district against the Meghalaya government’s plan to regulate gaming through the Meghalaya Gaming Act 2021.
The JACAC comprises traditional heads and pressure groups from the Ri-Bhoi areas, including the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), and the Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong Ri-Bhoi. The meeting was attended by MLAs Mayralborn Syiem, George B Lyngdoh and Sosthenes Sohtun, Nongpoh MDC Balajied Rani, leaders of various Dorbars, church elders, and others.
The group had, on September 23, held a meeting in Nongpoh, announcing its decision to run the campaign.
The signature campaign was launched at Byrnihat and will run across locations like Bhoirymbong, Umiam, Nongpoh, 20 Mile, Byrnihat, Khanapara, Patharkhmah, Umden, and Mawhati over the next few days.
The campaign comes when Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has ruled out the possibility of backtracking the state’s plans to regulate gaming. Sangma assured the church leaders that the three provisional casino licenses had expired on September 30 and would not be renewed by the government.
Central Government Issues Advisories to Digital Publishers, OTT Platforms & Private Channels Against Online Betting Advertisements
On October 3 (Monday), the Indian Government’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued two advisories for digital news publishers, Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, and private television channels. The government has requested they desist from airing commercials, including surrogate adverts for online betting sites, as the government considers the practice of online betting a significant socio-economic and financial risk for consumers.
Earlier this year, the ministry of I&B also issued an advisory asking digital news platforms, newspapers, and private TV channels to refrain from featuring online betting sites on their platform. The ministry said, “It had come to the government’s notice that several sports channels on television, as well as on OTT platforms, have recently been showing advertisements of offshore online betting platforms and their surrogate news websites.”
In a statement, the ministry also mentioned the names of some platforms- PariMatch, 1xBet, Wolf777, and Betway- and said that such websites promote gambling and betting in broad daylight. The ministry has prepared a list of platforms closely associated with the consumer affairs department.
The advisory reads, “Since betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of the country, advertisements of these betting platforms and their surrogates are also illegal. The advisories relied upon the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Cable TV Network Regulation Act 1995, and the IT Rules 2021,” The New Indian Express notified.
Both online betting platforms and news websites are not registered under any legal authority in India. The government has now created a rule to regulate adverts on digital platforms. According to the advisory, the violators of the rule will be charged with sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) under various relevant laws.
Look Out Circular Issued Against Apparent Mastermind of the Kolkata-Based Fraud Mobile Gaming App Case
Kolkata Police have now issued a Look Out Circular (LOC) for Shubhojit Srimani, considered one of Aamir Khan‘s partners in the fraud mobile gaming app case. According to the police, Srimani is a Dubai-based businessman who operated the E-Nuggets application from abroad with the help of remote access software. He has been absconding since the arrest of his partner Khan on September 24.
Earlier this week, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seized a crypto wallet containing 77.6 bitcoins (~₹12.83 Crores). Previously, a large amount of cash (nearly ₹18 Crores) had also been recovered from the house of Amir Khan’s father.
The police conducted a search operation in an office in the Bidhannagar area based on the accused’s statements. Police sources claimed they found an “ultra-modern office” where E-Nuggets’ fraudulent activities occurred.
The police found various automated computers connected with remote access so that they could be internationally operated. They also recovered several debit cards and laptops.
Srimani is suspected to be the mastermind operating from abroad and transferring the money overseas in bitcoin form via different banking and online wallets. Both Khan and Srimani scammed the people by first winning their trust by providing good returns in the E-Nuggets gaming app, and when people started investing large sums of money, they stopped withdrawals and vanished in thin air. The ED noted this, and they seized most of the accounts that were a part of illegitimate transactions.
CBI Apprehends Delhi-based Company in Cahoots with Philippines’ Online Betting Portal Dafabet
Yogesh Kumar and Rakesh Prasad Gupta, directors of Betrue Ecom Solutions Pvt. Ltd., were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday for their involvement in illegal online sports betting and gambling with the help of Philippines-based online web platform, Dafasports.
Dafabet.com was founded in 2004 and has more than 1000 employees. “The website offers online betting and gambling and also accepts payments in Indian Rupees,” the CBI said. And the preliminary inquiry of the Karol Bagh-based company has revealed that it is suspected to have connections with Dafasports and Dafabet.
CBI also found a transaction of a specific amount in the account of dafabet.com, which was later credited to the account of Betrue Ecom Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Between March 2, 2019, and May 31, 2019, the CBI found large amounts of transactions (₹23.33 crore of withdrawals and ₹23.37 crore of deposits) in the company’s account. Coincidentally it was the time during which the IPL was taking place.
Further inquiry has revealed that illegal gambling and betting were taking place using services from dafabet.com. However, these activities were disguised as online footwear trading per the documents submitted to the Registrar of Companies and the bank.