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More updates have come in from both the domestic and international gaming sector. While e-commerce and digital wallets portal Paytm has introduced free to play rummy and fantasy sports games on its app, international betting exchange, Betfair has stopped accepting players from India. Betfair has emailed its Indian users informing them that they will no longer be able to access their website.
In Europe, four European online gambling operators – Betsson, ComeOn, Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) and Kindred Group have come together to form a lobby group called Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling (NBO) in a bid to liaison with the Norwegian authorities and pursue a more open gambling license regime in the country.
Paytm Launches Rummy & Fantasy Games
We had earlier reported that One97 Communications, the parent company of India’s leading e-commerce and digital wallets platform Paytm, was entering a joint venture with AGTech Holdings Ltd to form Gamepind, a skill-gaming platform. Gamepind had even received funds to the tune of ₹110 Crores from One97 Communications and AGTech Holdings Ltd for business expansion in India.
Taking it`s first steps in the gaming domain, Paytm has recently launched new rummy and fantasy games on its mobile app. These games are operated by Gamepind and are accessible on the homepage of Paytm. While the fantasy sports app of Gamepind has been developed and designed by Indore-based software firm Vinfotech that specializes in fantasy sports development, the platform currently offers an array of daily fantasy games for cricket, football and kabaddi.
The Gamepind platform also offers games like Trivia, Ludo, quizzes and other casual and social games.
None of the games offered on the Gamepind platform are for real-money at the moment. While users can play them using ‘beans’ or points which can be purchased on Paytm, the app runs only a free-to-play version of the rummy game. However, this may change in the near future as with the recent interest it has shown in fantasy sports and gaming, Paytm looks poised to leverage its vast customer base for expanding into real-money gaming.
Betfair Says No to Players From India
In a big setback for Indian punters, popular sports betting platform Betfair has stopped accepting players from India. The top international betting exchange has emailed its Indian users and informed them that from January 28, users from India will not be able to access their website.
While Betfair did not specify reasons for this move, it asked Indian residents to withdraw their funds and manage any open positions before January 28.
On accessing the Betfair website, Indian users are presently getting the following message: “Our Software detects that you may be accessing the Betfair website from a country that Betfair does not accept bets from. If you believe that this detection has occurred in error, please Contact us for further assistance.’
Notably, access by Indian players to international betting sites like Betfair has been a bone of contention for Indian gaming establishments. In November 2018, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) had written a letter to PM Narendra Modi where it had cited that sites like Betfair were illegally accepting players and deposits from India. This was, as the AIGF underlined, flouting of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and other laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The federation demanded an Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe.
The fact that Betfair has now banned Indian players to bet on its platform indicates that the company has finally taken cognizance of the opposition it is facing from Indian gaming operators and the legal trouble it could find itself in by continuing to offer its services in the country.
Lobby Group Formed By Norway-Facing Online Gambling Operators
In the face of the restrictive gambling policy of the government in Norway, online gambling operators operational in the country have come together to form a new lobby group.
Four European operators, Betsson, ComeOn, Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) and Kindred Group have set up the Norwegian Industry Association for Online Gambling (NBO). This new association intends to lobby with the government seeking liberalization of the existing gaming laws that currently allows locals to wager bets only in the state-run Norsk Rikstoto for race betting and Norsk Tipping for sports betting and casino games.
As of now, internationally licensed online gambling operators cannot apply for local licenses. The NBO has named former commercial director of Rikstoto, Carl Fredrik Stenstrom as its secretary general. With him at the helm, the NBO will work to enlist other operators of the EU and European Economic Area. Kindred’ public affairs manager Rolf Sims will be the chairman. Sims is a veteran who has worked with in the country’s Ministry of Culture earlier and helped craft Norway’s gambling policy.
Strom has been very vocal in his support of having a proper, regulated and responsible license model in Norway like the ones in Denmark and Sweden.
Notably in August 2018, the four NBO operators had released a report which claimed that a more open online gambling license system was a better way to go, since it offered more value to customers and would help the state control problem gambling and oversights that are imminent in the current gambling regulations. Deputy director-general of Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) Henrik Nordal immediately rejected the report.
The country’s lawmakers have in recent past, indicated little interest in shifting their approach towards gambling. They have even stepped up action to block unauthorized domains and restricted payment processing channels while declaring a ban on gambling ads.