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The latest developments in the international and domestic gaming space have kept us on our toes. In midst of a rapidly changing operational landscape of the gaming and gambling industry in India, the country’s leading lottery operator Sugal & Damani Group has announced the launch of ‘Luckykhel’, a mobile app that allows users across eight lottery-friendly states of India to buy lottery tickets online straight from their smartphone devices. At the same time, a fresh funding round saw Delhi-based eSports startup GamingMonk Entertainment Pvt. Ltd successfully raising ₹4 Crores.
Just as sports wagering in Nevada posted a record sports betting win to the tune of $56.3 Million in September, Chinese authorities blocked a number of Texas Hold ‘em poker mobile apps including Poker King and Poker Tribe.
Acquisitions and mergers also seem to be in the air, since we hear that UK-listed gambling operator William Hill has made a £241 Million bid for Sweden-based online gambling operator, MRG.
Indian Lottery supplier Sugal & Damani has announced the launch of ‘Luckykhel’ – a mobile app facilitating sale of lottery tickets on mobile. The app will find its way on the Android platform first, subsequently on others as well.
According to a report published by the Economic Times, the mobile app will launch in the next few days making Sugal & Damani India’s first operator to offer lottery ticket sales via mobile.
“No trade can ignore the digital medium. There’ll be 468 million smartphone users by 2021, and we’ll be able to reach out to more customers via mobile phones. Our costs would go down and we’ll be able to sell lotteries round the clock,” CEO of the Group Kamlesh Vijay said.
“By opening a mobile distribution channel, we’re trying to bring on board many more customers. We’re targeting anybody who is above 18 years of age,” Vijay added.
Vijay informed that the app would feature lotteries like lottos, magic lottos, lucky-4s, and powerball, etc and have security features such as geo-location to ensure that players from states where lottery sale is prohibited cannot access the service. In all, players from Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh will be able to access the app.
The app also includes the KYC measure wherein users will have to complete the KYC process to link their bank accounts or e-wallets with the app.
According to the Group, the company enjoys nearly 75% share in the online lottery market. Initially, the app will start with selling state lotteries of Goa, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Plans are afoot to include the state lotteries operational in Punjab and Maharashtra in the near future.
Notably, the Indian lottery distributors currently have to pay a hefty 28% GST ever since the unified indirect tax regime was introduced.
With a large group of consumers now mobile, introduction of a mobile app to sell lottery tickets was a long-anticipated move, and the Sugal & Damani Group have taken the first step in this direction with ‘Luckykhel.’
New Delhi-based GamingMonk Entertainment Pvt. Ltd is one of the few Indian companies to enter the Esports market space. The company has successfully raised ₹4 Crores in a fresh funding round.
While the valuation of the company at which the funds were raised has not been disclosed, the funding is reported to be led by Japan-based seed investment firm, Incubate Fund and vice-president of Google India and South-East Asia, Rajan Anandan. Other investors who participated in the funding round include Stellaris Ventures, Smile Group, AdvantEdge and Samir Khurana.
“India is at the cusp of massive online gaming adoption with an exponential increase in players and funding in this sector. We are focussed on building a top-notch gaming experience for the esports enthusiasts and the community, in which players can thrive, improve their skills and become top competitors at an international level. The new infusion of funds comes at a right time that will help us achieve our vision of providing a smooth, transparent and credible gaming platform for all the players,” stated co-founder of GamingMonk, Abhay Sharma.
Sharma, along with Ashwin Haryani, both graduates from Amity University, launched the company as an e-commerce marketplace for gaming titles, consoles and accessories in November 2014.
GamingMonkalso organizes competitive video gaming tournaments for games like Call of Duty, DOTA 2 etc., online on its website and across physical locations via tournaments hosted in different Indian cities, apart from providing news, content and videos relative to developments on games and tournaments. Till date, it has organized more than 200 competitive tournaments across the country.
“We want to focus on not just the enthusiast gamers but also build an ecosystem which brings more casual and semi-pro players on all three platforms – PC, console and mobile gaming,” Haryani said, talking about the company’s future plans.
“We are seeing a lot of interest from investors and are in discussions with some strategic players both in India and overseas for our next round of funding. A big announcement is expected in the coming few months,” he added.
In September 2017, the company raised an undisclosed sum from early-stage venture capital fund and incubator AdvantEdge. Its current competitors in the Indian esports market are Nazara Technologies and Rooter.
Sports wagering may be well on its way of expansion in the US, but this has certainly not affected the sports betting industry of Nevada that posted a record $56.3 Million sale in September 2018. The figures are in fact, the highest in the state’s 34 years long history of sports betting.
According to information released by the Nevada Gaming Control, the 190 sports books operational in the state took in a total $571 Million in wages and won $56.3 Million of these bets, in September.
Prior to this, the maximum money wagered in the state was in October 2017, to the tune of $564 Million in wagers placed by bettors.
In September, football betting topped the performance within the sports wagering portfolio of the state. NFL and college football wagers alone comprised 68.1% of the total wagers. The 2018 NFL season kicked off on September 6 and since then bettors lost more than $44 Million on professional and college football wagers.
In perspective, the figures speak the story of a continuous yearlong growth. The Nevada sports books won $275.6 Million over the past 12 months, winning 5.6% of all wagers in the US.
Months after China announced a ban on online poker apps and their promotion on social media, the Chinese authorities have widened the crackdown on illegal online activities and blocked multiple Texas Hold’em poker mobile apps including the popular Poker King and Poker Tribe.
According to information, Chinese authorities have now strengthened their campaign for cleaning up ‘inappropriate’ online activity and content, and as part of this campaign, blocked a number of mobile poker apps that offer real-money gaming.
Several months back the Chinese government ordered Tencent Holdings to shut down its popular Texas Hold ‘em app. Last week, the company was issued an order to remove pornographic materials from its social media platform, WeChat.
Both Poker King and Poker Tribe are online gambling platforms, with their total daily betting amounts reportedly crossing 50 Million Yuan ($7.2 Million).
After registering on Poker King, users have to charge their accounts with at least 1,000 Yuan for gambling and provide their payment service or bankcard. The platforms charge commission on winnings from customer accounts.
If the online poker gaming environment of the country was stifled by the Chinese government’s earlier moves, then the latest ban has catalyzed a near-exit of poker from the country that legally permits casino gaming only in Macau.
UK’s gambling operator William Hill has made a £241 Million ($306.7 Million) bid to acquire Sweden-based online gambling operator, Mr. Green & Co (MRG). On Wednesday, Hill announced that it has submitted an offer for acquiring MRG at a price of SEK69 ($7.50) per share. The offer carries a hefty premium to MRG’s last trading share price of SEK48.5, and the deal is an all-cash offer, so current shareholders are not being offered a stake in the new group.
Alongside, the MRG board of directors issued a joint statement announcing that they have unanimously recommended to their shareholders to accept the deal. Following this, seven MRG shareholders who hold a combined 40% stake in the Stockholm-listed company indicated their willingness to make the deal, including one of the three MRG founders, Henrik Bergquist.
According to CEO of William Hill Philip Bowcock, adding MRG to the company’s portfolio would accelerate Hill’s diversification, “immediately making us a more digital and more international business.”
MRG brands include Mr.Green, RedBet and 11.lv and the company holds licenses in Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malta, UK and Latvia. It offers online casinos, sports betting, bingo and Keno in 13 different markets via these brands.
“MRG will provide William Hill with an international hub in Malta with market entry expertise and strong growth momentum in a number of European countries. William Hill will move from a single brand to a suite of brands that can maximise growth opportunities moving forward in new and existing markets,” Bowcock explained.
In its press statement, William Hill listed the advantages that the deal would bring on-board that include an expansion beyond its Gibraltar base, improvement in revenue, growth potential and bringing in of multiple brands.
If Hill acquires MRG, Hill’s online share of revenue would be boosted by five points to 47%, while its revenue share outside UK markets would see a seven-point rise, to 21%. The company also believes that it is ideologically compatible with MRG since the two share a commitment to responsible gambling.
Meanwhile, an official offer document will be published towards the beginning of December, with the acceptance period expected to begin on December 10 to continue till January 11, 2019. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals in the companies’ respective markets.