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Gaming Report: MPL to Host COVID-Charity Chess Tournament, Paytm Invests ₹5 Crores in Rooter Sports & More

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  • Namita Ghosh April 27, 2020
  • 5 Minutes Read

These are extraneous times because of the COVID-19 health emergency and like other sectors; even the gaming industry has been proactively supporting relief efforts. Bengaluru-based e-sports platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has collaborated with Karnataka’s State Youth Empowerment and Sports Department and United Karnataka Chess Association to host a charity Chess Tournament. Called ‘Checkmate COVID,’ the ₹50-fee event is to be hosted on the MPL platform on May 2 & 3 and has a total of ₹10 Lakhs up for grabs. The remaining proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the CM COVID Relief Fund.

At a time when there is a substantial uptick in player engagement on online platforms, One97 Communications Ltd., the parent company of Paytm is investing ₹5 Crores in sports fan engagement site, Rooter Sports Technologies.

While online gaming is being encouraged at this time, illegal live gaming is a strict no-no, especially keeping the social distancing protocols in mind. The Haryana police recently busted an illegal gambling den in Karnal by employing the help of drone surveillance technology.

The country-wide lockdown may have been a boon for card game operators like rummy and poker, but given the lack of live sporting events, those in the fantasy sports sector have been hit hard. Many operators are, in fact, finding it hard to stay afloat. One of these platforms, former Indian captain Kapil Dev-backed Apne 11, recently emailed its user base, announcing a temporary suspension of operations.

In international updates, The Stars Group (TSG) shareholders have approved the company’s planned merger with Flutter Entertainment by a thumping majority.

Another gaming giant, daily fantasy sports betting provider, DraftKings, has officially completed its merger with the Special Purpose Acquisition Company, Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corporation (DEAC), and gaming technology provider SBTech. With the merger now complete, DraftKings is free to go public.

MPL to Host COVID-Charity Chess Tournament

In a bid to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts in Karnataka, Bengaluru-based e-sports platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) will be hosting a charity Chess tournament from May 2-3. Called ‘Checkmate COVID,’ the competition is being organized by MPL in collaboration with the State Youth Empowerment and Sports Department and the United Karnataka Chess Association.

The entry fee for the tournament is ₹50. From the prize money collected, a total of ₹10 Lakhs is to be distributed in cash prizes to as many as 15,000 finalists. The top three finishers are to get ₹1 Lakh, ₹50,000, and ₹20,000, respectively. The remaining proceeds are to be donated to the Karnataka CM COVID Relief Fund.

Announcing the tournament in a promotional video, the State Youth Empowerment and Sports Minister CT Ravi exhorted users to play and contribute towards’ the state’s ongoing efforts for COVID-19 relief.

The video was tweeted by MPL on April 24.

 

Talking about the tournament, co-founder and CEO of MPL, Sai Srinivas Kiran G, said, “We are humbled and honored to be partnering with the Karnataka Government for such a noble cause. This is a time when the entire nation needs to come together and fight Covid-19. We are expecting participation in huge numbers and looking forward to the tournament.”

In his official statement, secretary of United Karnataka Chess Association, R Hanumantha, said, “We are greatly appreciative of the work done by the Government and by MPL and for their cooperation on this matter. We will mobilize the chess community in Karnataka and other states to ensure this becomes a way to demonstrate solidarity and resilience.”

 

Registrations for the fast-paced Chess Tournament are underway on the MPL app. The site has also announced that the best-performing female player and the best-performing 60-plus player will each win ₹25,000.

Paytm to Invest 5 Crore in Rooter Sports Technologies

Paytm’s parent firm, One97 Communications Ltd., is investing ₹5 Crores in sports fan engagement portal, Rooter Sports Technologies.

According to a Livemint report, the investment is part of the latter’s pre-series A investment round. Anthill Ventures and LeAD sports accelerator are the other investors participating in the funding round.

Rooter Sports Technologies is a sports-centered social community platform that was founded by Piyush Agarwal and Dipesh Agarwal in 2016. The portal provides curated content on cricket, football, and a range of other sports for users with different language options. Users can also live-stream their games and connect, share game videos with other gamers. The platform currently boasts a user base of 5 million.

The Livemint report mentioned two reliable sources, one of them stating, “This is a strategic investment clearly. Content and gaming go hand in hand. Paytm FirstGames has a fantasy cricket gaming strategy, and a lot of users do research on players, and typically these individuals go to forums like Cricbuzz or other forums. But maybe with this strategic investment Paytm Games and Rooter can look at an integration, where users can play games and get information and connect to a community of sports fans on a single platform.”

The move comes hot on the heels of Paytm`s entry into eSports. Paytm First Games had sponsored the Supercell-developed popular ‘Clash Royale’ eSports tournament earlier this month.

Paytm First Games has also entered a partnership with the Esports Players League (ESPL) for mobile eSports tournaments in India and has forged another collaboration with the online game developer, Garena to host the first Free Fire India Solos (FFIS) 2020 tournament.

Drone Surveillance Helps Haryana Police Bust Illegal Gambling Ring

The city police of Karnal in Haryana busted an illegal gambling ring last Wednesday. Police were carrying out drone-manned surveillance in the area to ensure that residents were adhering to the lockdown orders and staying home. Instead, they found a group of 13 people gambling illegally at a rooftop location near Meera Ghati Chowk.

Raiding the spot, a police team nabbed the gamblers, seizing ₹70,230 in cash from them.

Confirming the arrest, Superintendent of Police (SP) Surinder Singh Bhoria, said, “We have been keeping a vigil on the lockdown violators with the help of drone cameras. Besides, we are using it to combat gambling activities. On Wednesday evening, the city police captured the accused while gambling and arrested them.”

Looking at the successful use of drones, Karnal IG Bharti Arora has directed Panipat and Kaithal police to also use drones for maintaining surveillance in local areas.

Fantasy Sports Website Apne11 Suspends Operations

Fantasy sports portal Apne11 that has cricketing icon Kapil Dev as its brand ambassador has recently temporarily suspended operations, as a fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency.

Blaming the outbreak for the lack of live matches, the platform emailed its users, informing them that it was suspending its operations temporarily. Hinting that this could bring about a permanent closure of the portal, the site asked all players to withdraw their balance within 20 days.

The site made the official announcement on Twitter.

The news of Apne11 suspending operations is not alarming. Fantasy sports, like many live gaming operators, have been the worst hit by the ongoing crisis. While some fantasy operators like HalaPlay have been able to catch a lifeline by raising additional funds from investors, others have not been so lucky.

The Stars Group (TSG) Shareholders Back Flutter Merger

On April 24, The Stars Group Inc. (TSG), the parent company of poker giant PokerStars, via a press release, announced that its shareholders have approved the company`s proposed merger with Flutter Entertainment plc, Paddy Power Betfair by an overwhelming majority. TSG confirmed that approximately 99.99% of the shareholders who voted at the meeting backed the deal.

The TSG had, last October announced its merger with Flutter Entertainment. The merged entity would be the world’s largest online gaming company valued at over £10 Billion.

Under the agreement, Flutter will exchange 0.2253 new shares in exchange for each TSG share. Flutter shareholders will own approximately 54.64% of the combined company, while TSG shareholders will get the remaining 45.36%.

Earlier this week, Flutter shareholders had approved the deal in a poll. Even the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave its approval to the merger last month. The few remaining regulatory approvals are expected to fall in place by next month.

DraftKings Completes Pending 3-Way Merger

Daily fantasy sports betting operator, DraftKings Inc., completed its multibillion-dollar merger with the Special Purpose Acquisition Company Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corporation (DEAC) and gaming technology provider SBTech on April 23. The move came in after DEAC shareholders approved the long-discussed three-way merger.

Of the roughly 33.4 million votes cast by DEAC shareholders, more than 99% of the voters were in favor of the merger. The merged company is valued at around $3.3 billion. The completion of the merger allows DraftKings to now go public on the NASDAQ exchange.

Talking on the occasion, DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins, who will be the chairman and CEO of the merged company, said, “Today marks another milestone for DraftKings and the future of digital sports entertainment and gaming in America,… by bringing together our leading consumer brand, data science expertise, and industry-leading products with SBTech’s proven technology platform, we will accelerate our innovation, growth, and scale.”

DraftKings Inc. tweeted the news.

 

Founding Investor of Diamond Eagle Harry E. Sloan, said, “We are pleased to bring DraftKings and SBTech together as one public company, DraftKings is already a premier online fantasy sports and betting platform. With the full integration of SBTech’s technology and innovative product expertise coupled with the right capitalization, DraftKings will be in a great position to continue its ambitious expansion plans in the United States.”

According to company officials, the merger aims to create the only vertically integrated sports betting and online gaming company in the US. The merged company will have $500 million in cash after the transaction closes, and through the deal, DraftKings will forego the traditional IPO route for going public.

Under the merger terms, the company, which is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, will continue to be run by Robins, along with other co-founders Paul Liberman and Matt Kalish.

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