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Gaming Report: Games24x7 Becomes Third Online Gaming Company to Enter Unicorn Club & More

Gaming Report
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  • Namita Ghosh April 5, 2022
  • 5 Minutes Read

Multi-gaming platform, Games24x7 has joined the big leagues! The parent company of RummyCircle and My11Circle raised $75 Million in a recent funding round led by Malabar Investments at a $2.50 Billion valuation, making it the third Indian gaming company after Dream11 and Mobile Premier League to enter the unicorn club!

Online gaming is attracting many investments, and our second report is also about fundraising in this space. The hypersocial gaming specialist, Bengaluru-based Bombay Play, recently closed a $7 Million funding round led by Kalaari Capital.

The Tamil Nadu government is hell-bent on abolishing all forms of online gaming. In a State Assembly session, government officials reiterated their commitment to ban online gaming. Last August, the Madras High Court struck down the state-imposed legislation prohibiting online gaming. Since November, the government’s appeal of the judgment has been pending before the Supreme Court. While the matter remains sub-judice, the state Law Minister S Regupathy told the State Assembly last week that the government remains committed to banning online gaming.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) disclosed on Saturday that it has provisionally attached “Lottery King” Santiago Martin’s movable assets worth ₹409.92 Crores in connection to a lottery scam. The move has been made as part of an ongoing investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2022.


Games24x7 Becomes Third Indian Online Gaming Company to Enter Unicorn Club

Games24x7 has been creating waves on the online gaming market, and it is now the third Indian gaming company after Dream11 and Mobile Premier League to enter the ‘Unicorn Club.’

Play Games 24x7

The multi-game platform raised $75 Million in a funding round led by Malabar Investments at a $2.50 Billion valuation. The round saw participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Raine Group. Tiger had earlier invested in the company in 2011 and 2012, and Raine did their first round of investment in 2019.

Games24x7 has become the most valuable multi-game platform with the latest investment round. Its offerings include RummyCircle, India’s largest online rummy platform, My11Circle, the second-largest fantasy platform, and U Games, a portfolio of casual games.

Games24x7 co-founder and chief executive Trivikraman Thampy sharing his excitement about partnering with Malabar Investment, said, “We are extremely happy to partner with Malabar Investment and to see Tiger Global and Raine Group continue to repose their faith in us. This investment is a testimony not only to Games24x7’s performance but also to India’s immense potential as an online skill gaming market.”

Malabar Investments managing director Sumeet Nagar reiterated the sentiment, “Games24x7 is a pioneer in the fast-growing online gaming industry in India and has built a highly profitable business with outstanding acquisition and retention metrics. Not only that, they have continuously improved on these metrics at a great scale, which we believe is quite a remarkable feat. This speaks of the data science capabilities, the rigor, the thoughtfulness, and the strive for excellence that the fantastic leadership team brings to the table.”

The Mumbai-headquartered startup was founded in 2006 and has amassed over 100 million users. The startup’s total income in the financial year ending last March was $173 million. Its profit after tax during this period stood at $50.5 million, according to data sourced by intelligence platform Tofler.


Bombay Play Raises $7 Million in Funding Round Led by Kalaari Capital

A pioneer in the hypersocial gaming genre, Bengaluru-based startup Game publisher Bombay Play has sourced more funding. The company has raised funds to the tune of $7 Million in a round led by Kalaari Capital. Other investors like AdvantEdge, Winzo, AMEA Ventures, and the company’s existing investors Leo Capital, PlayCo, and Lumikai Fund also participated in the funding round.

Oliver Jones and Abhas Saroha
Oliver Jones and Abhas Saroha


Talking about the funding round, CEO and co-founder Oliver Jones said – “Our team’s ambition is to disrupt the current casual games market with hypersocial game designs by leveraging our cross-platform distribution channels. We are delighted to have found the confidence of investors in our journey to build a gaming innovation factory in India. With the amount raised, we will scale up existing offerings while investing in cutting-edge technologies to elevate the social experience of casual gamers worldwide.”

The company, founded in 2018 by Jones and Abhas Saroha, specializes in HTML-based casual games, AKA the hypersocial gaming genre. The firm has developed popular games like the Dice Merge Puzzle, Daily Word Puzzle, and Card Party and claims to have grown three times year on year since its inception. It currently employs a team of 50 people but has major plans to double the number by the end of the current financial year.

Bombay Play had last raised $1 Million in a seed funding round led by Lumikai in December 2020. The latest funding round has grown Bombay Play’s total fundraising to over $9.50 Million, increasing its valuation four times compared to its Pre-Series A valuation in 2020.

The company will utilize the fresh capital to scale up its existing portfolio of hypersocial game offerings and support upcoming projects while focussing more on gaming innovation.


Tamil Nadu Govt Reiterates Resolve to Ban Online Gaming

Online gaming continues to be stuck in a crossfire between the gaming proponents and governments opposing them. The Tamil Nadu government has been transparent about its firm stance against online gaming. Even after the Madras High Court struck down the government’s online gaming ban in August last year, the state has not given up on efforts to reinstate the ban.

Reiterating the commitment to ban online gaming, state Law Minister S Regupathy, on March 29, informed the State Assembly that the government has already challenged the Madras High Court judgment in the Supreme Court and was seeking to uphold the contentious law passed during the AIADMK tenure.

S Regupathy
S Regupathy


Regupathy said, “We have gone to the Supreme Court to uphold the law enacted by the AIADMK government. Let’s hope that the apex court would deliver a good verdict on Tamil Nadu government’s appeal against the Madras High Court order quashing the ban on online gambling.”

He refused to discuss the issue further, pointing out that the matter was currently sub-judice.

The state Law Minister made this statement in response to a call to attention motion by the former CM Edappadi K Palaniswami. Palaniswami said that the government needs to take urgent measures to ban online rummy as several families were getting affected due to the addictive nature of the game. He said the youth are gambling and losing lakhs of rupees, “Some ended up borrowing hefty loans while others committed suicide due to staggering losses.”

Palaniswami pointed out how his government had promulgated an ordinance to ban all forms of real-money online gaming in 2020, but the Madras High Court struck down the same. Since the Madras High Court’s decision, the AIADMK-led opposition has demanded a new law to check online gaming.

On November 23, last year, the Tamil Nadu government filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Madras High Court decision that quashed the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021. The petition claimed that the Madras High Court decision was unconstitutional.

In January 2022, Chief Minister MK Stalin assured the State Assembly that the government would ban online gaming soon. While the government now hopes for a favorable decision from the Supreme Court, the fact remains that the legislation in question was a hurriedly put-together piece of law, which the Madras High Court called “erratic, unreasonable and excessive.”

Will it hold in the Supreme Court is a question that remains to be seen.


Enforcement Directorate Attaches Properties of “Lottery King” Santiago Martin Worth 409.92 Crores in Lottery Scam Case

The Enforcement Directorate has attached movable assets of “Lottery King” Santiago Martin worth ₹409.92 Crores in connection with a lottery scam case involving his company Future Gaming & Hotel Services Pvt Ltd and its various distributors for West Bengal. The ED made the move as part of an ongoing investigation in cases registered by the Kolkata Police under relevant sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2022 (PMLA).

The same was disclosed by the directorate last Saturday in a tweet.

To fill you in, the company run by Martin is the sole distributor of lotteries in West Bengal and the Northeast states of Sikkim and Nagaland, the latter running under “Dear Lottery.” The company has been charged with illegally retaining unsold lottery tickets and claiming winning prizes on such tickets to the tune of approximately ₹400 Crore during the pre-GST period from 2014 to 2017.

The ED has charged – “Sale proceeds of lottery tickets have been illegally diverted towards gifts and incentives by modifying the prize structure of lottery schemes without any approval from the organizing State governments.”

The man in question, Santiago Martin, is believed to be funding West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s political drive to expand the AITMC and has produced movies in the past. The Martin Foundation website even claims he is the “Counsel General for the Republic of Liberia” and claims to have boosted the lottery industry, developing the country’s economy.

Santiago Martin
Santiago Martin


There’s a second lottery scam involving Martin’s company and several other distributors. They earlier allegedly cheated the Sikkim government by entering an agreement with the state officials in contravention of the Lottery Regulations Act. This allowed the company to avoid remitting the face value of lottery tickets sold in Kerala to the state in the form of sale proceeds. From April 1, 2009, to August 31, 2010, Martin’s company allegedly made an illegal gain of ₹910.30 Crore by inflating prize-winning ticket claims.

The ED had earlier attached assets worth ₹277.59 Crore in connection to the Sikkim lottery scam. In December 2021, the ED provisionally attached Martin’s immovable assets worth another ₹19.59 Crore.

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