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The gaming industry has been abuzz with big developments these past days. India’s biggest fantasy sports site, Dream11 has pledged ₹3 Crore for the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG)’s athlete support program. The IFSG officially launched the support program in its ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ function at Mumbai on December 5, and the fantasy sports company’s CSR wing, Dream11 Foundation handed a cheque for the amount to IFSG president, John Loffhagen.
Meanwhile, the Nepal government has included a fresh palate of legislative provisions to regulate its casino industry and one of the major measures will empower the government to confiscate assets of casino owners who have gone rogue.
We saw two developments coming in from U.S. The lawmakers in Kansas are now making a firm move towards legalization of sports betting in the state. Meanwhile, sports betting site FanDuel has already paid out people who have placed their bets on Alabama team even before the semi-finals of the NCAA College Football National Championship. Alabama certainly seems to be the clear favorite for most but FanDuel stands to lose thousands of dollars if its ‘bet’ doesn’t work out.
Closer home, in China a 280-member gang was caught running a fraud online lottery scam last year and have been given varying sentences. The two main ring leaders have been sentenced to life.
Fantasy Sports Site Dream11 Donates ₹3 Crores For Emerging Athletes in an IFSG Function
An athlete support program titled ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ was launched by the fantasy sports lobby group the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) at the Trident Hotel in Mumbai on December 5. At the event, the CSR arm of fantasy sports website Dream11, the Dream11 Foundation pledged ₹3 crores for the program.
The online fantasy sports platform Dream11 boasts of over 2 crore sports fans who play on the platform. The gaming platform offers fantasy sports contests for Kabbadi, Cricket, Football and NBA.
According to a report published on Glaws.in, the IFSG event was graced by eminent personalities like Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and award-winning boxer Mary Kom, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Bhushan Gagrani, cricket historian Boria Majumdar, Dream11 CEO Harsh Jain, all of whom participated in the panel discussion on ‘Is India on its way to becoming a sporting powerhouse?’
Speaking about the initiative, IFSG President John Loffhagen said, “Inspired by the Indian Sports Ministry’s efforts and initiatives, IFSG wants to facilitate and contribute towards building India as a great sporting nation. Being a part of the sports ecosystem, we feel it is our responsibility to enable the overall growth of sports and provide specific support to deserving athletes at an individual level.”
Harsh Jain commented, “We are proud to support IFSG’s Stars of Tomorrow initiative as it resonates with our Foundation’s objective of contributing towards building India as an even greater sporting nation.” The Dream11 Foundation presented a cheque of the pledged amount to Loffhagen at the event.
“I am happy to be associated with IFSG’s initiative as I feel that for India to truly become a sporting nation and be seen as a strong contender in the international arena, support needs to be given not only for team sports but also to individual sports. IFSG’s Stars of Tomorrow is another welcome step towards achieving national goals,” Mary Kom stated after felicitating the athletes selected in the ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ event.
The government in Nepal has proposed a new legislation for Casino regulation. If implemented, the legislation will give Nepal’s governance machinery sweeping powers to confiscate the properties of casino operators who default on tax payment.
The Casino Bill, as it is called will be part of a new Federal Tourism bill, and include provisions that will empower the Nepal government to pursue seizure of assets outside the country as well.
According to a report published by Kathmandu Post on December 4, the information has been revealed by a tourism ministry official, under the condition of anonymity. The new bill, according to the official, proposes making the hotel in which defaulting casinos operate liable to pay if casino operators turn fugitive.
“As the casino license belongs to the hotel, it should be liable, and accordingly, the new law will define it. If the casino operator fails to clear the dues, the hotel will be liable to pay them first,” the official stated.
The proposal legislation will let the government legally confiscate the personal property of fugitive casino operators, as well as their passport and bank accounts. The draft bill is however, unclear on whether the measure will be applicable to old defaulters as well.
Spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, Ghanshyam Upadhyaya updated the media persons on the draft bill. “We have held several rounds of discussions on the new law. We plan to consult the private sector and the public regarding the new bill. The final draft will be sent to the Finance and Law ministries for their approval before submitting it to the Cabinet,” he said.
Nepal has been firming its grip against defaulters in recent years. In July 2013, Casino Regulations- 2013 were introduced, with stringent punitive measures brought in place for casinos defaulting on tax payments and letting Nepali citizens from entering the casinos. The next year, the government announced that the licenses of all casinos found not abiding by the regulations would be terminated. Several casinos took to court seeking legal relief, and following an interim order of the Supreme Court, three of them continue to operate despite being stamped with default charges.
Meanwhile, the Nepal government is yet to collect casino royalty dues of more than NPR 1 Billion. Rakesh Wadhwa, the fugitive owner of Nepal Recreation Centre alone owes the government NPR 535 Million. The Nepal government had proposed creation of a separate Casino Act to encourage global investment in the country’s growing casino business, but the proposal was turned down by a Cabinet Committee that directed the ministry to integrate the Casino Act into the Federal Tourism Act.
The latest U.S. state to give sports betting legalization a serious thought is Kansas. The lawmakers in Kansas are being encouraged to attend a special and interim committee session on sports betting this week. The session will cover discussions on the legal and civil implications of opening the state to legal sports betting, aspects like tax rates, policing frauds and whether to allow mobile betting apps.
“I don’t want to skate on thin ice on something we don’t know anything about,” said Republican Senator and Committee Chairman, Bud Estes.
“If we start passing legislation for interest groups, we could make a real mess. We need to be educated. I’m not going to let my committee go out and pass a lot of legislation right out of the bag. We need to be smarter before we do it,” he explained.
An official legislation for sports betting is yet to be drafted. Though Republican Representative Jan Kessinger had submitted a draft bill for sports betting, it failed to advance beyond the initial hearing. During her campaign, incoming Democrat governor-elect Laura Kelly has expressed favor towards legalizing sports betting in the state.
At present Kansas has four commercial casinos and its casino industry is targeted to grow at 7%, after the fourth casino opened in April 2018.
The NCAA College Football National Championship kicks off from January 7, 2019 onwards, however, online sports betting site FanDuel has already started paying out people who have wagered bets on the University of Alabama team to win the championship.
This is surprising given the fact that Alabama has not even progressed to the Championship game, since the semi-final Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl games are yet to begin and are slated from December 29, 2018.
FanDuel at its end has defended its move. In a statement issued last Friday, the company said, “It has been a dominant season for the Crimson Tide and our traders have seen enough. It’s a way to reward our customers for betting on Alabama when the odds were really hard to make any money doing it.”
FanDuel has announced that they are treating Alabama as winners of the Championships Game and are paying out single-game bets to bettors who are using online and mobile accounts.
The company’s sportsbook also states that Alabama is being considered the winner on futures and parlay bets that include Alabama winning the title.
This is not the first time that a betting site has paid out bets before the final results. While usually such bets work out, the decision to pay out early can end up as costing gaming companies a bucket. In 2016, several weeks before the U.S. Presidential election, Irish online bookman Paddy Power ended up losing $1M in bets made on Hilary Clinton who eventually lost in the electoral college.
Though the Alabama team has been dominant this year, FanDuel could end up losing up to $400,000 in their haste to pay out players.
China has sentenced a big group of people, about 280 in number with varying sentences for running an online lottery scam that was exposed in 2017. The harshest punishment has been doled out to the two chief accused, who have both been given life sentences.
According to a report posted by the Chinese state-run media outlet Xinhua, the hearing was carried out by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Baishan, in China’s eastern province of Jilin.
The two accused in questions were caught running an illegal online lottery operation. Other members of the gang have been sentenced to terms ranging from six months to 15 years.
For nearly 15 months, the ring was involved in reaching out to unsuspecting people through online messaging platforms like WeChat and encouraging them to buy lottery products from an operation that did not exist.
In this manner, the gang duped people of nearly RMB153 Million ($22Million). Their illegal activities came to light after the police exposed the scam in July 2017.
The gang had operating bases in China’s Guangdong province, as well as Indonesia and Fiji and was operational for nearly 15 months. Close to 77 people allegedly involved were repatriated from Fiji thereafter.