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The gaming industry continues to witness big changes with many newsworthy updates coming in from the domestic gaming circuit.
Draftstars, the real-money fantasy sports website operated by Australian betting and gaming firm PlayUp has launched in India. The Indian avatar, Draftstars.in is currently offering cricket and football fantasy games on its platform, and has already seen over 2,300 registrations in its first week of operations.
Meanwhile, a recent report from Canada claims that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been investigating the just-resigned Indian-origin MP Raj Grewal’s gambling activities, for months.
Back in India, gambling spun back into limelight after four people who were caught in Mohali, Chandigarh in March for allegedly playing a ‘game of chance’ with a pack of playing cards have been acquitted. In Sriganganagar, Rajasthan police nabbed a group of nine men for illegally running a ‘satta’ in Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts.
With fantasy sports rapidly gained popularity in India, it comes as no surprise that major international brands are now eyeing this fast expanding industry.
As part of its global expansion drive, Australia-based betting and gaming set-up, PlayUp has entered the Indian online gaming market. PlayUp launched its popular pay-to-play fantasy sports platform, Draftstars for Indian residents last week.
Divulging this, the company, in its official press release stated that Draftstars India was launched a week ago and has already pulled in 2,300 registrations in its first week of operations. For now the site is offering international and domestic cricket challenges in addition to football, with plans to introduce Basketball and Kabaddi by the year-end.
“The Indian market is the fastest-growing fantasy sports market in the world,” said Operators Administrator of Draftstars India, Venkatesh Iyengar. He explained, “Given PlayUp’s strong reputation and brand in the country it was a natural decision to introduce another of our most popular pay-to-play fantasy sport platforms, Draftstars.”
According to a report on Glaws.in, Draftstars India will be operated through a Delhi-based company, Fantasy Studio (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Draftsstars Australia made headlines in October after paying out the biggest fantasy sports prize pool ever in Australia, in the AFL Grand Final that gave out $112,000 in winnings to a huge number of competitors.
Beyond fantasy sports, PlayUp is also involved in virtual games, and horse race betting. It has launched and operates the PlayChip cryptocurrency token that can be used across PlayUp’s various betting and gaming brands.
Though the company reportedly plans to facilitate use of PlayChip on Draftsstars.in in the near future, unless it can find a legal corridor to navigate through the anti-cryptocurrency stand of the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), use of PlayChip by Indian residents could remain a pipe dream.
According to federal sources, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been probing former Liberal MP Raj Grewal for months, along with closely analysing millions of dollars in transactions, including at a casino near Parliament Hill, and occasionally tracking his movements.
In a shocking turn of events last week, Grewal resigned from the Liberal caucus and his seat of Brampton East, even though he was recently nominated to run for a second term in the next election.
Nonetheless, Grewal seems to have caught the eye of the law-enforcement authorities. According to sources, Grewal is being investigated for gambling activities. The sources said that, “Grewal spent millions of dollars in total in the past three years, including at the Casino du Lac-Leamy, which Loto-Québec runs across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill.”
Following Grewal’s resignation, the Prime Minister’s Office said, “the former MP is dealing with a gambling problem. Mr. Grewal is also under investigation by the federal Ethics Commissioner for bringing Yusuf Yenilmez, chief executive of ZGemi Inc., to an event during the Prime Minister’s trip to India. Mr. Yenilmez’s company also paid Mr. Grewal employment income while he was an elected official and is a co-debtor on a vehicle loan for the former MP.”
It has also been stated that, “Mr. Grewal’s gambling activities triggered the disclosure requirements of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), under which casinos must report transactions of more than $10,000 a day. Another federal source said Mr. Grewal exceeded that threshold many times over on occasion at the casino.”
FINTRAC conveyed the information to the RCMP. The police force eventually transferred the file to its national division, which is responsible for political matters. In addition to looking into financial transactions, the RCMP sometimes followed Grewal from Parliament Hill to the casino as part of the investigation, one source stated.
The House of Commons was very recently informed about the investigation by the RCMP since the RCMP required access to parliamentary records involving Grewal. Under the concept of parliamentary privilege, the Speaker of the House must give consent before executing a search warrant or production order on Parliament Hill. The Speaker’s Office said on Monday that it cannot comment on specific cases.
The RCMP’s national division has neither confirmed nor denied that it is investigating Raj Grewal.
On March 18, 2018, the police on patrolling duty received secret information that some boys were playing a ‘game of chance’ at a park in Sector 52 in Chandigarh. The individuals in question were Mohali residents Arvind Kumar and Sunil, Uttar Pradesh native Mohammad Arkan, and Anuj from Dhanas.
The eight-month old case stated that an alleged amount of ₹7,030 were recovered from the accused persons, along with a deck of playing cards. In the latest update, all four persons have now been acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Previously, the police had alleged that they had found ₹1,800 kept under Arvind Kumar’s knee. Besides, they claimed to have recovered ₹1,900 from Mohammad Arkan, ₹1,700 from Anuj and ₹1,630 from Sunil. A case was registered against them.
The defense counsel for the four people claimed that the accused had been implicated and played no part in gambling. Following the prosecution’s failure to provide evidence and prove the police’s allegations, the court acquitted the four individuals.
Lack of a legal framework for gambling has led to a rise in illegal gambling activities that continues to create a negative aura around the gaming industry. A nine-member gang allegedly involved in running illegal gambling dens across the twin districts of Sringanganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan was recently hauled in by the police.
Police team conducted raided at various spots to nab the nine identified accused. According to investigation officer Niket Pareek, the nine arrested are, Ashu Aggarwal, Prince Singla, Vivek Garg, Vinod Kataria, Rajinder Khatri, Sonu Soni, Ram Chander, Habib Khan and Yuvraj Meghwal.
Police had been on a lookout for these men for allegedly running ‘satta’ operations at various locations in Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh. Sniffing trouble, the accused had gone into hiding. All of them have been booked under relevant sections of the Gambling Prevention Act. Police also seized cash amounting to ₹70,900 at the raids.