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Gaming Report: 4 Arrested in Andhra Pradesh For Poker Scam, GST Council Fixes Uniform Tax Rate of 28% For Lotteries & More

Gaming Report Dec 19
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly December 19, 2019
  • 5 Minutes Read

The country is presently dealing with the aftermath of the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the impending implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Taking a break from this parliamentary and political drama, let’s see what has been happening in the domestic gaming industry.

The officers of the Commissioners’ Task Force (CTF) recently arrested four individuals in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) for planning a poker scam to loot people during the upcoming Sankranti on December 24. The apprehended persons, Sk Munna, Sk Hazarat, Nemaala Sanjeev and Nemaala Narayana, were planning a high-tech gambling racket with the help of the specially designed mobile application, ‘CVK 500 Poker Analyzer’, secret camera mobile phone, mobile scanning watch, micro ear-in pieces and scanned poker cards.

The 38th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council failed to reach a consensus on fixing a uniform tax rate for state and private-run lotteries. Presided over by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in an unprecedented move, the matter got put to the vote, and a uniform rate of 28% for state and private lotteries was agreed upon.

While a higher GST slab for the lottery sector has raised a storm in the gaming sector, The Rummy Federation (TRF) last Thursday awarded its ‘Dynamic Seal’ of accreditation to four online rummy companies – Ace2three, Rummy Passion, Junglee Rummy and Rummy Circle. The accreditation was awarded after a thorough audit procedure.

In what came a significant boost to real-money gaming startup Rein Games Pvt. Ltd, the company has raised ₹5 Crores in a recent seed funding round. The funding was led by Dr. Ranjan Pai’s Manipal Education and Medical Group and VC firm Titan Capital. Rein Games plans to use the funds for enhancing its product development, strengthen the team, and increase its customer base.


CTF Arrests 4 People in Vijayawada For Planning Poker Scam

Detectives of the Commissioners’ Task Force (CTF) recently apprehended four individuals for planning a poker scam to loot people during the upcoming Sankranti on December 24. The four accused were identified as Sk Munna (42), Sk Hazarat (33), Nemaala Sanjeev (32), and Nemaala Narayana (28), all residents of Vijayawada.

CTF Arrests 4 People in Vijayawada For Planning Poker Scam

The Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP) D Nagendrakumar told reporters, “the Task Force officials got a tip-off from reliable sources that four persons were indulging in a high-tech gambling racket, raided their house in Electricity Colony under the Patamata police station limits. The four were caught red-handed preparing for the scam.”

According to reports, the accused became aware of the technology and technique through a video on YouTube. To execute the scam, they ordered online a specially designed mobile application, ‘CVK 500 Poker Analyzer’, secret camera mobile phone, mobile scanning watch, micro ear-in pieces, and scanned poker cards from a Delhi-based trader.

“With the help of the mobile application, the accused would be able to know who is going to win the game. Then they would cheat the opponents by making more bets and the specially designed phone with a hidden camera would scan the cards before the game starts, alerting the organisers through micro ear-in pieces,” JCP Nagendrakumar said.

The mobile application, which is worth ₹1.6 Lakhs, was seized by the police, along with the secret camera cell phones, mobile scanning watches, two remotes, six spare batteries, micro earphones, and scanned playing cards from the spot.

A case under relevant sections of the Andhra Pradesh Gambling Act and Section 420 of IPC was registered against the accused.


GST Council Fixes Uniform Tax Rate of 28% For State & Private Lottery

The 38th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council was held on December 18 and voted for a uniform tax rate of 28% on lotteries across the country. This was an unprecedented move as all previous GST Council decisions have been rooted in the practice of consensus-based decision-making.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Headed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the GST Council meeting had been called to fix a uniform rate on the lottery tickets across the country. After failing to generate a consensus, the matter was put to the vote.

The council had been deliberating on fixing rates for lotteries for a long time now, and yesterday, the council finally took up a proposal to fix a uniform 28% tax rate on lotteries effective March 1, 2020, all over the country.

According to sources, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac disagreed with the proposal and pushed for a vote. The proposal was put to the vote, and it won 21 votes in favor and seven against it.

“The council has decided to impose a single rate of 28% on state-run and authorised lottery,” Sitharaman said after the 38th meeting of the GST Council had concluded.

“Every attempt was made to keep the tradition alive but eventually the council was reminded that tradition was not part of the rulebook. It was not imposed by the council or me but on a request from a member,” the Finance Minister further added.


The Rummy Federation (TRF) Awards Accreditation to 4 Online Rummy Operators

Domestic non-profit rummy regulating industry body, The Rummy Federation (TRF), has awarded accreditation to four online operators of the country. The TRF presented the accreditation seal called ‘Dynamic Seal’ to representatives of Ace2three, Rummy Passion, Junglee Rummy and Rummy Circle in a ceremony held in Delhi last Thursday.

TRF Awards

Founder and CEO of Ace2Three’s parent company Head Digital Works, Deepak Gullapalli, co-founder of Junglee Games, Rahul Bhardwaj, co-founder and CEO of Passion Gaming, Gaggan Kharbanda, and CEO and co-founder of Rummy Circle’s parent firm Play Games24X7, Trivikraman Thampy received the seals.

Talking to the media during the ceremony, CEO of TRF, Sameer Barde, said, “With the growing number of players and operators, the online rummy ecosystem has become quite robust, while also creating the need for regulation to safeguard the players and ensure a responsible, secure and fair environment for them.”

The Dynamic Seal is given to companies that follow a strict code of conduct in running their business. According to TRF, the seals were awarded after a stringent audit procedure was carried out by a Big 4 audit firm.

Talking about the growth of the online rummy sector in India, Barde added, “It is growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 34% and in the next two years, expected to touch a turnover of around ₹4,000 Crore.

There are currently 18 companies offering online rummy services in the country, seven of which are part of the TRF. These seven firms represent over 98% of the revenue collected by the sector.

Barde pointed out that the TRF seal represents that the companies adhere to the strict code of conduct set in place for operators, protecting players from any unwanted outcome.

On the sidelines of the accreditation ceremony, a conference was also hosted at the event where members and online rummy operators discussed issues related to the online rummy sector. A paper co-authored by TRF and Deloitte called, ‘Online Skill Gaming in India: The Changing Landscape’ was also released.


Noida-based Gaming Startup Rein Games Raises ₹5 Crores From Manipal Groups Ranjan Pai & Titan Capital

A Noida-based real-money gaming startup, Rein Games Pvt Ltd, has got a significant funding boost. In a seed funding round led by Dr. Ranjan Pai’s Manipal Education and Medical Group and VC firm Titan Capital, the company was able to raise ₹5 Crores successfully. The company plans to utilize the funds for product development, strengthening its team, and widening its customer base.

Rein Games

Confirming the same, co-founder and CEO of Rein Games Vaibhav Gupta said, “We will thus focus on building one game at a time and innovate around that and become a leader in that before moving onto the next game and so forth. The validation and confidence exposed by Dr. Pai is a huge booster and I’m immensely thankful to him and our other seed investors.”

Gupta had, in partnership with Himanshu Devra, Pranav Choudhury, and Nishtha Gupta, set up Rein Games in 2018.

In his official statement, Dr. Pai said, “Being an avid gamer myself, I know firsthand that the market for real-money, skill-based gaming in India is poised for a big take-off. Vaibhav and his team know the space well and are razor-focussed on becoming the undisputed leader in this segment.”

Rein Games follows an analytics-driven approach, while cross-platform capabilities and real-time support augment its gaming offerings. It is predominantly operational in West Bengal and has also entered several Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3 cities, claiming to have an app retention rate of 45%. Currently, the company is being operated by a core team of 12 niche professionals.

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