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The gaming industry is teeming with new prospects, and we start off this report with the announcement of the first-ever India Gaming Awards. The initiative is a collective effort of different stakeholders of India’s fast-growing sector to recognize and encourage creativity and excellence in gaming. The India Gaming Awards has even launched a website announcing the names of the nominees for awards in 16 categories.
Another story doing the rounds is that Paytm First Games, formerly known as Gamepind, is on the verge of closing a significant funding round. The company is said to be in talks with investors to raise funds equivalent to $25 Million (~₹177 Crores).
In the US, MGM Resorts International has challenged the recent amendments by the US Department of Interior (DOI) to the agreements between Connecticut and its two tribes, Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot. The agreements allegedly give the tribe’s joint venture MMCT unfair competitive advantage in the Connecticut gaming market and clearly, MGM is not willing to take this sitting down.
Florida police, in the meanwhile, has indicted a group of eight that includes four former casino employees for rigging electronic machines in the Miccosukee tribe’s West Miami-Dade Resort and Casino and stealing $5.3 Million.
The leading betting operators in the UK have formed a new committee for allocating their responsible gambling funding, while the Washington Redskins have become the first NFL team to launch a predictive gambling oriented telecast in the US.
First-Ever India Gaming Awards Announced
The Indian gaming sector has been growing at a fast rate. According to a Business Standard Report, the industry is currently valued at nearly $900 Million (~₹6,377 Crores) and estimated to grow at a healthy rate of 14.3%. In 2018, a group of industry representatives got together to launch the India Gaming Awards as a platform that would recognize and encourage creative and technical excellence in Indian gaming.
Going one step further, the initiative has recently launched its website. The India Gaming Awards has come out as a platform that encourages and promotes creativity and technology in the gaming industry. Through the website, the initiative will give an insight into the creative environment of skills games and casino gaming in India.
The India Gaming Awards has also announced the nominees for Awards to be given this year. Awards will be given away in 16 categories that cover the Rummy, Poker, Casino and Fantasy Sports segments. These include Online Rummy (Operator) of the Year, Online Poker (Operator) of the Year, Best Affiliate Platform, Best Online Poker Software and Best Casino in India. The winners will be adjudged by a panel of judges that include a distinguished set of industry representatives.
“India Gaming Awards is coming at the best possible time, providing gaming companies the platform to get the recognition they deserve. Having taken part in Global Gaming Awards, EGR Awards, and Asia Gaming Awards, I do believe this is a great initiative which will result in growing the overall ecosystem of Gaming Industry in India”, said Jaydeep Chakravartty, Vice President Nektan Plc, who is a member of the judges’ panel.
Others who are part of the judges’ panel include the Founder of Adda52.com, Anuj Gupta, CEO of Swintt, David Flynn, Founder and CEO of SiGMA, the Summit of iGaming in Malta, Eman Pulis, Commercial Director of Black Cow Technology, Tony Plaskow, and Glaws Founder, Jay Sayta.
Paytm First Games to Raise $25 Million (₹177 Crores) in Funds
Gaming platform, Paytm First Games has been taking significant strides lately. Four months after announcing that its registered user base had crossed 30 Million, the platform is now reportedly close to raising $25 Million (₹177 Crores) in funding.
Formerly known as Gamepind, the portal is a joint venture between Alibaba Group’s AGTech and parent company of Paytm, One97 Communications. The company is reportedly in talks with potential investors like the venture capital firm SAIF partners and an undisclosed Hong-Kong based company who are likely to participate in a fresh funding round in the company. The company is said to be planning to invest the funds it receives in product development.
According to an Economic Times report, COO of Paytm First Games, Sudhanshu Gupta, when contacted declined to confirm the news. Gupta did underline that the platform has charted a reasonably healthy growth in the last one year. “We now have about 30 million users on our platform with half of them being monthly active users. On our paid games, people spend around ₹4,000 on games like Rummy, while the spends are to the tune of INR 400 in a fantasy league, etc,” Gupta is reported to have said.
He also added that the company has an annual revenue of $50 Million (~₹353 Crores) and is looking at expanding its 150-strong team with plans to streamline its technology further and host esports events.
MGM Takes Connecticut Casino Dispute to Court
U.S.-based casino major MGM Resorts International earlier this week filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Interior (DOI) in the District Court of Washington. MGM has challenged the recent amendments that the DOI has made to the existing agreements between Connecticut and its two tribes, Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot, that are running a joint casino gambling venture called MMCT.
According to MGM, the DOI erroneously made the amendments to approve a location in East Windsor for an MMCT project that is neither in tribal land or land areas carefully selected under a ‘land-in-trust’ process as detailed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The MMCT project area is located close to MGM Springfield and could threaten its customer base in the future.
Seeking that the court invalidates the East Windsor license to MMCT and block the project, the company, in the statement filed to the court said, “The amendments thus confer a statewide perpetual competitive advantage to the joint venture, MMCT.”
Another cause for worry for MGM is that the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have recently rolled out legislation that would give MMCT exclusive rights to construct a casino in Bridgeport to operate sports gaming and online wagering through Connecticut.
Though Governor Ned Lamont has recently disapproved of this proposal, if cleared, the legislation would prevent operators like MGM to offer legal sports betting and online betting in the US state.
Florida Police Indicts Miccosukee Casino Scammers Who Stole $5.3M
Investigations by police and FBI into an alleged computer fraud involving four former casino workers of a tribal casino in Florida have finally moved forward. The suspects allegedly scammed the Miccosukee tribe’s West Miami-Dade Resort and Casino of $5.3 Million between January 2011 and May 2015.
On Wednesday, the US Attorney Office for the Southern District of Florida announced a 63-count indictment charging eight people, including these four with computer fraud, embezzlement, false statements to the law agencies and money laundering.
According to the Miccosukee police department that investigated the case in conjunction with the FBI, four former employees of the casino identified as Michel Aleu, Lester Lavin, Yohander Jorrin Melhen and Leonardo Betancourt, in connivance with four others rigged the electronic gaming machines. The group generated credit vouchers worth $5.3 Million, which they later exchanged for cash at ATM machines on the casino floor. The suspects also converted some of these vouchers to cash through cashiers at the casino.
The FBI is now seeking to seize some of the assets that the scammers made using the ill-gotten money, including property and expensive cars.
NFL’s Washington Redskins Launch Predictive Gaming
NFL American football franchise, Washington Redskins, has partnered with the local channel, NBC Sports Washington Plus, to become the first NFL team to launch an interactive predictive-gaming TV broadcast feature. Called “Predict the Game” the feature offers viewers a gambling-focussed telecast of the team’s games. It allows fans to enter free-to-play contests offering up to $1,000 in cash prizes along with other freebies. They can predict various game and player performance outcomes and accrue points by selecting their predictions from a series of questions. Apart from winning cash prizes, players also get an opportunity to win tickets to upcoming games and official memorabilia.
As a start, the franchise has launched this feature for its four pre-season games that are offered exclusively on NBC Sports Washington Plus and began on August 8 with Redskins’ pre-season game at the Cleveland Browns.
Redskins’ Senior Vice-President Scott Shepherd talking about the partnership said, “This partnership strategically aligns with our organisation’s commitment to constant innovation for our fans. We are continuously working to enhance the fan experience and strive to identify new, meaningful ways for our incredible fans to engage with our team.”
NBC Sports Washington’s General Manager Damon Phillips was equally ecstatic about delivering a predictive gaming feature, and said, “We are committed to delivering the most engaging experience possible to fans, so the opportunity to partner with the Redskins to combine live NFL action with predictive gaming this preseason is something we are very excited about.”
Top 5 Betting Operators in UK Form Independent Responsible Gambling Committee
The top five betting operators in the UK, Bet365, Flutter Entertainment (formerly Paddy Power Betfair), GVC Holdings, The Stars Group’s Sky Betting & Gaming, and William Hill, have announced their plans to form an independent committee to help determine how to allocate their responsible gambling funding.
The committee is to be chaired by Lord Chadlington aka Peter Selwyn Gummer and aims to become fully functional by September. Chadlington, who is a known gambling sector expert, said that the body will consult widely with all stakeholders, including those with “lived experience” to formulate its recommendations. The goal is to publish those recommendations by the end of the year.
A statement from GVC read, “Membership of the committee will be announced in September 2019 and it will publish its recommendations before the end of the year. Lord Chadlington and the other appointed members of the committee will not be remunerated.”
The operators aim to raise £100 million in safer gambling funds over the next four years. The betting groups will also increase the safer gambling GGY donations from 0.1% to 0.25% in 2020, before raising installments to 1% by 2023.