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Gaming Report: Nazara Technologies Invests in Sportskeeda & Qunami, Increases Stake in HalaPlay & More

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  • Namita Ghosh July 19, 2019
  • 2 Minutes Read

The IPO-bound mobile game publisher Nazara Technologies has been on an expansion spree over the past year. The company has invested in many gaming and e-sports firms, and the latest in its line of investments are Sportskeeda, Qunami, and HalaPlay. Nazara is reported to have invested ₹36 Crores ($5.21 Million) in Absolute Sports Private Ltd, the parent company of digital multi-sports content portal, Sportskeeda. It has also invested in Sports Unity Private Ltd, the operator of the real-money quiz app, Qunami and increased its stake in fantasy sports site HalaPlay.

India’s biggest esports and vernacular real-money gaming platform WinZO has announced that it will be spending ₹10 Crores ($1.5 Million) to support local Indian game developers. WinZO plans to reach out to gaming studios and localized talent in gaming development with the long-term aim to develop a multi-player mobile gaming experience that targets users in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

In Goa, the state government continues to drag its feet on coming out with a policy for governing casinos and establishment of a Gaming Commission. The issue was again brought up at the state legislative assembly on Tuesday by Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco. In his response, CM Pramod Sawant has said that draft casino policy and Gaming Commission are still under consideration.

Moving over to the U.S., following the launch of online sports betting in Pennsylvania in May, online casinos are also now running in the state. On July 15, two casinos, the Hollywood Casino and Parx Casino, launched their online services, while a third casino, SugarHouse Casino launched its online casino website on July 17.

At the same time, New York has joined the fast-growing list of U.S. states that offer sports betting, with several online sportsbooks run by casinos going live this week.


Nazara Technologies Invests in Sportskeeda & Qunami, Ups Stake in HalaPlay

Mobile gaming major, Nazara Technologies had received the SEBI approval for an Initial Public Offer (IPO) launch last April. Even as the company has delayed its IPO launch to an undisclosed date, the firm continues to expand its portfolio of investments. Early in May, Nazara invested in Bakbuck, a vernacular social contests portal. The gaming major is back in the news, and this time, Nazara Technologies has increased its stake in fantasy gaming portal HalaPlay. The company also plans to invest in sports news website Sportskeeda and real-money quiz app Qunami.

Nazara Invests in Sportskeeda

Nazara Technologies has invested in Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd., the parent firm of online sports content and news website, Sportskeeda, and acquired shares worth ₹36 Crores in the latter. The company is reported to have picked up 118,000 equity shares of Absolute Sports in a cash plus stock deal at the issue price of ₹10. Nazara divulged details of the investment in its recent filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).

As part of the deal, Nazara has purchased these shares from existing promoters, investors and key managerial personnel which include Seedfund, co-founders of Sportskeeda Srinivas Cuddapah and Porush Jain, as well as Samarth Sharma and Sankalp Sharma. As per reports, Nazara is further offering the existing shareholders of the company a total of its 491,100 shares at the premium of ₹724 per share.

Nazara Invests in Qunami

The company filings indicate that Nazara Technologies has also invested in Delhi-based Sports Unity Pvt Ltd, the company that operates the real money cricketing quiz app, Qunami. This is reportedly an all-stock deal, wherein Nazara has purchased shares of Sports Unity worth ₹7.09 Crores. Nazara has also allotted 34,900 shares to non-banking finance company Azimuth Investments. The latter had given a loan of ₹6.25 Crores to Sports Unity, and with this deal, Sports Unity’s debt will get converted into equity.

Nazara Increases Stake in HalaPlay

According to the regulatory filings at the Registrar of Companies (ROC), Nazara is also looking to increase its stake in the fantasy sports portal HalaPlay. In a share swap deal, Nazara plans to acquire the existing stake of early investors Kae Capital and Kalysta Capital Fund in HalaPlay that will take its total stake in the fantasy sports startup to 52.53%.

WinZO Games to Spend 10 Crores ($1.5 Million) On Indian Game Developers

Esports and real-money gaming portal WinZO has announced that it will be spending ₹10 Crores ($1.5 Million) on local Indian game developers and will be launching the games produced by them.

Previously known as TicTok Games, WinZO is backed by Kaalari Capital and offers over 25 games in ten Indian languages. The country’s largest vernacular esports platform will through the funds, partner with gaming studios and independent game developers by offering them the infrastructure to develop quality content and a powerful platform to monetize their games.

“A sector gets disrupted when the best brains of the world work actively towards unlocking its potential. Through this initiative, we look forward to interacting with highly enthusiastic and top-notch talent, keen at creating a dent in the global gaming ecosystem,” said Paavan Nanda, co-founder of WinZO.

The expenditure is part of WinZO’s plans to develop a real-time multi-player mobile gaming experience targeting first-time smartphone users in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

Nanda explains, “WinZO’s social multi-player skill gaming platform clocked 100 million gaming minutes every day and has been able to successfully monetize this engagement. The company is growing 50 per cent month on month. On one hand, large OTTs platforms are struggling to monetize in India, but WinZO is facilitating the first-ever M&E transactions from the tier 2 or tier 3 audiences.”

Goa CM Pramod Sawant Says Casino Policy & Gaming Commission Still Under Consideration

Last year in August, late Goa CM Manohar Parrikar had told the Legislative Assembly that the government was chalking out the draft casino policy that would form the legal backbone for relocating casinos inland. Parrikar had also promised that a Gaming Commission would be set up to oversee the casino industry in Goa.

Goa CM Pramod Sawant

Despite repeated assurances, the Goa state government is yet to come out with such a legal framework to man the casino functioning.

Parrikar’s successor, CM Pramod Sawant was on Tuesday confronted with the issue by Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco in the legislative assembly who demanded to know why the government was delaying the much-awaited legal framework for regulating the state casinos.

In a written response, CM Sawant did not give a timeline, emphasizing that the casino policy and Gaming Commission was still “under examination.”

Notably, Sawant had in June expressed support to the casino industry asserting that casinos were crucial for Goa’s tourism sector and “cannot be written off” inviting the opposition’s ire.

BJP MLA Niklath Halarnkar also raised starred questions on licenses issued to casinos to which Sawant responded that six offshore casinos and eight onshore casinos are currently operational under license.


Online Casinos Commence Operations in Pennsylvania

Online casinos and sports betting were legally approved in Pennsylvania almost 18 months back after Governor Tom Wolf gave his signatory approval to the landmark iGaming Bill, H 271 in October 2017. While online sports betting was launched in May this year, online casinos finally went live in the U.S. state this week.

Three online casinos have formally launched operations so far. On July 15, Hollywood Casino and Parx Casino commenced online casino operations, and on July 17, the SugarHouse Casino started to offer online casino games.

Online sports betting in Pennsylvania had kicked off in May itself with Rush Street Gaming bringing out its SugarHouse portal. Currently, two more online sportsbooks, BetRivers and Parx, are operational in the state.

In mid-April, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control board (PGCB) had listed out ten iGaming certificate holders and three iGaming operators that were awarded licenses to operate in the state with July 15 being the commencement date.

Seven of the license holders also have permission to offer online poker and this includes PokerStars and partypoker, who are both expected to launch soon in Pennsylvania. According to reports, PokerStars’ parent company The Stars Group (TSG) that has partnered with Mount Airy Casino is gearing up for the launch of its online poker room as early as next week.

Image Courtesy: U.S. Online Casino

New York Casinos to Launch Retail Sports Betting This Week

Punters in New York will finally be able to wager sports bets starting this week. After the U.S. state’s lawmakers approved regulations that govern land-based sports betting at the casinos last month, several operational casinos have applied for a license. As per reports, two casinos – Rivers Casino in Schenactady County and the Tioga Downs in Nichols will start accepting legal sports bets by this weekend.

Sports betting technology provider Kambi will power the Rivers Casino sportsbook while FanDuel will oversee the sports betting offering by Tioga Downs casino.

Other operators are waiting to get in on the action. The del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County has partnered with DraftKings to launch sports betting, while the Resorts World Catskills plans to offer an online sportsbook in collaboration with bet365.

Amid the tribal gaming operators in New York, the Seneca Nation of Indians has announced that it plans to offer sports betting at its three casinos but is yet to come out with a timeline on the same. Another tribal operator, Oneida Indian Nation has earlier this week announced that it would be opening sportsbooks at Turning Stone and Point Place Casinos on August 1. Both casinos will see sportsbooks powered by Caesars Entertainment while the Yellow Brick Road Casino will also get added to the list in the coming months.

More casinos are hurrying up to initiate sports betting offerings. The Saint Regis Mohawks tribe announced a partnership last week with The Stars Group (TSG) for its Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort.

Image Courtesy: The NY Post

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7 months ago

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