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Gaming Report: Indian Digital Gaming Startup MPL Raises ₹36.24 Crores, Zynga Poker Posts Revenue Drop & More

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  • Namita Ghosh November 11, 2018
  • 5 Minutes Read

The gaming industry has been rife with stories of funding raises and revenue losses, even as the U.S midterm elections kept industry operators on the edge in several states.

On the domestic front, digital gaming startup Mobile Premier League (MPL) raised ₹36.24 Crores ($5 Million) in a funding round that was led by Venture Capital firm, Sequoia Capital.

Unfortunately, popular free-play online poker site, Zynga Poker seems to be on a downward spiral. The company reported disappointing revenue figures in Q3 of 2018, with online gaming revenue sliding down 13% year-on-year.

The U.S. midterm elections brought a palate of mixed results in different states, and will most likely have far-reaching ramifications for the future of casino, gambling and online poker in these states. While on one hand, known opponent to online poker, Attorney-General Adam Laxalt lost the race for the governorship of Nevada, Arkansas, voters decided to permit casino gambling, by voting for Issue 4 even as known poker supporter Brandt Iden won the third-term in Michigan statehouse. Meanwhile, voters in Chicago’s suburb of Forest Park have historically enacted a ban on video gambling, making it the first town to reverse its decision to allow the same.


Indian Digital Gaming Startup MPL Raises 36.24 Crores in Series A Funding

India-based digital gaming startup Mobile Premier League (MPL) has raised ₹36.24 Crores ($5 Million) in a Series A funding round, with majority of the funding coming in from Venture Capital firm, Sequoia Capital.


Founded this year by Sai Srinivas Kiran Garimella and Shubham Malhotra, the Bengaluru-based MPL is operated by Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd. and claims to be the world’s largest real-money mobile e-sports platform.

The MPL gaming platform facilitates users to compete in live tournaments for real money skill-based mobile games.

According to reports, players can opt to play a game of their choices such as Sudoku or Brick Breaker and then pick a tournament, based on the money they want to spend. Every tournament runs for a certain time duration and only a specific number of users can play in it. After the results are announced for a tournament, winners can cash out immediately via bank transfer, UPI or Paytm.

Notably, Sequoia Capital had earlier also invested in another of Garimella and Malhotra’s launch i.e. Creo, the maker of HDMI media streaming device Teewe. Teere was the Indian counterpart to Google’s Chromecast.

While it is not clear at what valuation the company received the funding, several angel investors are also reported to have participated in the funding round.

MPL that has been hugely successful with over 1 Million downloads on Google Play Store will utilize the funds for product development and expand its operations.


Zynga Poker Posts First Revenue Drop in 2 Years

Zynga has reported a disappointing drop in its revenue figures for its flagship free-play online poker vertical, Zynga Poker in the current year’s financial quarter Q3. According to the company’s latest financial reports, the online gaming revenue of Zynga Poker dropped 13% year-on-year.

Zynga Poker

The revenue drop is surprising considering the fact that Zynga Poker posted healthy growth, of nearly 6% in Q1 of this year, attributed to continued enhancements to in-game features like challenges and jackpots.

While the company is working to address the issues that led to the revenue decline, it is banking on its other titles including social casino and racing games like Words With Friends, Crosswords with Friends, CSR Racing 2 and Farmville to keep the boat afloat.

“I think that’s one of the things that as the team here at Zynga we’re really proud of is that we have a diverse portfolio of franchises. So when poker hits an air pocket and goes flat for a bit, we have an up 52% delivery on Words With Friends in that same quarter and CSR continues to go along,”Zynga’s Chief Financial Officer, Gerard Griffin said.

Zynga’s revenue grew in the third financial quarter by 4% YoY to $22 Million, and bookings increased by 17% to $249 Million. Only the gaming revenue posted a decline. Revenue from players making in-app purchase s itself declined by 4% from $174 Million to $168 Million in the same period.

According to the company, changes to Facebook Connect that led to loss of players was the primary reason for the revenue decline. It is reported that the company is working towards re-engaging with the lost players but it would be some time before the poker business picks up.


Online Poker Critic Adam Laxalt Loses 2018 Nevada Governor Race

A long-standing critic of online poker, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has been defeated in his bid to be elected as the next governor of the state.

Adam Laxalt
Adam Laxalt

As the world’s leading gambling hub, Nevada is the first U.S. state to have legalized and regulated online poker and is among the only three states in the country to have a flourishing online poker industry.

Despite this, Laxalt has been in open opposition to online poker. In 2015 and 2016, he co-signed a letter with other Attorneys general in support of the Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) that if implemented would make online poker illegal in the U.S. by codifying the previous incorrect interpretation of the Wire Act.

Laxalt suggested that money launderers could be victimizing online gambling operators and expressed support to returning Nevada to the status quo of its pre-online poker days.

Unfortunately for Laxalt, he did not find support from his own family, many of whom believed that he was using his family name to launch a political career. Adding to his challenges was the fact that the current governor Brian Sandoval also refused to endorse him. It was known that Sandoval supported online poker and was one of the leading figures behind the legislation that made online poker legal in Nevada back in 2013.

While Laxalt has been gracious about his defeat, it is clear that his opinion on online poker has not found flavour among many in Nevada.


Arkansas Voters Say Yes to Casino Gambling

The U.S. midterm elections have changed the dynamics of casino gambling in several states. Just as Florida voters decided to have a say in the regulation and authorization of casino gambling by voting yes on Amendment three, voters in Arkansas have approved an amendment that will open the state’s doors to casino gambling.

Arkansas Elections

The question of permitting casino gambling was included in the midterm elections in the U.S. state in the form of Issue 4, and the Arkansas voters passed it by a margin of 54.07% vote.

Interestingly, residents of Pope County voted against the measure and Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson was opposed to it as well. “I did not support this initiative, and I continue to have great concern over the immediate and negative impact on the state’s budget. But the people have spoken, and I respect their will. Time will tell as to what this means for our state, and it remains to be seen as to whether the communities affected will consent to the gambling initiative,” Hutchinson said after the election results were out.

The amendment also gives the green signal for sports betting. With the constitutional amendment, the Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and the Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis will automatically be issued casino gambling licenses. They are already operating electronic skills games in the state but will now be able to build full-fledged casinos.

Online Poker Supporter Rep. Brandt Iden Wins Third-Term in Michigan Statehouse

The results of the US midterm elections in Michigan are out, and it is Rep. Brandt Iden who has retained his seat in the Michigan statehouse, although by a narrow margin.

Brandt Iden
Brandt Iden

Iden has championed the cause of online gambling over the past two years. In 2017, he introduced H 4926, or the Lawful Internet Gaming Act. Iden has been behind a bill seeking legalization of online gambling in Michigan. The Bill made early progress in 2018 before stalling out in the Senate.

Having served in the Michigan statehouse after being elected in 2014 and 2016, Iden won his seat this year with less than 1,300 votes over competitor Alberta Griffin who is a Democrat.

Iden’s continued presence in the House will buttress the efforts for making online gambling legal in Michigan. While the framework for legalizing online gambling in Michigan is already established, Iden will face the challenge of pursuing the tribal gaming operators and convincing them that online gambling will not affect their Detroit casinos.


Chicago Suburb Voters Enact Video Gambling Ban

More news comes in from the U.S.midterm elections. Scripting history for being the first town to reverse its decision on video gambling, residents of the Chicago suburb Forest Park have voted to enact a ban on video gambling. Close to 52% of the town’s voters were in favor of putting an end to and removing video gaming machines.

Chicago Suburb

Notably, the U.S. state of Illinois had legalized video gaming machines six year back and local communities were given the final say on whether to allow them or not. Video gambling was legalized in Forest Park in 2016 after the Forest Park Village Council gave its approval for the same. Since then the issue has continued to pop up through public campaigns.

The town’s Council was initially opposed to allow the measure to be included in the ballot and rejected a signature campaign that demanded this. However, the campaigners took the matter to the court that ruled in their favor. With exclusion of video gambling, the town is expected to lose approximately $170,000 in annual tax revenue.

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