G2G releases the list of 24 influential people in real money gaming sector for 2024 [download now]

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In 2024, India’s real-money gaming sector finds itself navigating through a challenging landscape marked by regulatory upheavals, legal battles over tax issues, and a global funding slowdown that has forced companies to prioritize profitability over expansion. The industry witnessed a wave of layoffs and some companies had to shut down certain verticals in response to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime implemented from October 1, 2023, imposing a hefty 28% tax on every player deposit.

Building upon the success of previous years, in 2022, India’s premier gaming and esports news portal, G2G.News, introduced the inaugural list of ’22 people to watch out for in India’s Real Money Gaming Industry’, accurately predicting the key influencers shaping the sector. The subsequent list for 2023 further reinforced the impact of these individuals on the industry’s trajectory.

Against this backdrop, the unveiling of the ’24 people to watch out for in the Real Money Gaming Industry in India in 2024′ aims to provide stakeholders with a comprehensive overview of sectoral developments and expectations for the upcoming year.

This diverse list encompasses entrepreneurs, politicians, bureaucrats, legal dignitaries, and other key figures who are anticipated to play crucial roles in shaping the trajectory of the real-money gaming landscape in India throughout 2024. From seasoned industry veterans to emerging leaders, these individuals are poised to navigate the sector through its current challenges while capitalizing on new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Harsh Jain, the Co-Founder & CEO of Dream11 & Dream Sports, maintains his prominent status within the sector. Similarly, Santiago Martin, renowned as the ‘Lottery King,’ remains a notable presence on the list. Saumya Singh Rathore, the Co-Founder of WinZO Games, retains her position, skillfully managing legal challenges while enabling the company’s growth, potentially leading it towards unicorn status. 

New on the list are Siddharth Sharma, SVP at Head Digital Works that operates A23, strategically drives growth initiatives while advocating for responsible gaming practices. Sudhir Kamath, the COO of Nazara Technologies, draws upon his extensive expertise to navigate regulatory hurdles effectively. Sai Srinivas, CEO of Mobile Premier League (MPL). Dr. Trivikraman Thampy, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Play Games24x7, Pariekshit Maddishetty, Founder of Gridlogic, wields significant influence in both B2B and B2C gaming realms, shaping industry trends. 

Puneet Singh, Co-Founder of Baazi Games, leads diversification efforts, expanding the company’s presence within the rapidly evolving sector. These entrepreneurs, in tandem with key figures like Roland Landers of AIGF, are primed to influence the trajectory of India’s real-money gaming industry in the forthcoming year.

Among the bureaucrats, Tarun Kapoor serves as the Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognized for his crucial role in implementing key initiatives during the Covid19 pandemic and shaping regulations for the real money gaming industry. Dr. Judge DY Chandrachud, Chief Judge of India, stands as a beacon of legal acumen, with his landmark judgments and pending rulings poised to shape India’s legal landscape. Sanjay Malhotra, Revenue Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, brings decades of expertise to his role, overseeing significant tax reforms and dialogue between the government and industry stakeholders. Together, their contributions and insights play a crucial role in shaping policies and decisions at the highest levels of governance in India.

In the legal fraternity, N. Venkataraman, India’s Additional Solicitor General, holds a key role in tax and gaming law. His efforts in the Gameskraft GST case before the Karnataka High Court, now before the Supreme Court, shape the industry’s future, with potential GST dues exceeding one trillion rupees. 

Dr. Judge DY Chandrachud remaining tenure as Chief Judge of India will influence pivotal gaming law appeals, alongside legal stalwarts like Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who navigate complex tax demands and legal challenges for gaming companies. 

Sajan Poovayya, with his extensive experience, represents leading technology firms, including gaming companies, in crucial legal matters, contributing to the evolving landscape of Indian gaming law.

Among politicians, Nirmala Sitharaman, a key figure in the Modi 2.0 government, serves as the Union Finance Minister and Chairman of the GST Council. Her influence spans tax and fiscal policy, with a pivotal role in reviewing the taxation framework for real money gaming. As chairperson of the GST Council, Sitharaman wields significant influence in shaping the industry’s trajectory and long-term regulatory framework, including potential legislation like the Digital India Act. Alongside, legal heavyweights like Kapil Sibal, representing the Tamil Nadu government in legal battles against online gaming companies, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Information Technology & Electronics, who spearheads discussions on policy frameworks for the sector. 

Chandrasekhar, in particular, is instrumental in drafting regulations under the Information Technology Act and the impending Digital Personal Data Protection Act, pivotal for a country with over a billion inhabitants. These political figures collectively play a crucial role in steering India’s approach to the burgeoning online gaming industry, balancing regulatory imperatives with industry growth. 

Additionally, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a distinguished parliamentarian and senior advocate, adds depth to the discourse. As a seasoned National Spokesperson of the Congress Party and former Vice President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Singhvi brings a wealth of legal and legislative expertise to the table, further enriching the dialogue surrounding the regulation of the gaming sector.

Sudipta Bhattacharjee, a Partner at Khaitan & Co., boasts over 15 years of expertise in Indirect Tax advisory, specializing in GST and customs laws. Notably, he represents gaming companies in complex tax matters, including challenging show cause notices. His pivotal role in high-stakes litigation, such as Gameskraft’s case before the Karnataka High Court, underscores his influence in shaping strategic arguments, particularly as GST litigation escalates to the Supreme Court in April 2024.

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