Real money gaming companies seek self-regulatory central policy in meeting with Minister Chandrasekhar

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On June 7, Minister Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology held a two-hour-long brainstorming session with founders and executives of several gaming platforms. Prominent ones include Dream Sports the owner of fantasy platform Dream11, multi-gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL), listed entity Nazara Technologies and industry associations such as, All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) and ESports Federation. The sector saw two startup unicorns (companies with more than $1 billion valuations) in the last 12 months with Games24x7 being the latest.

According to reports, the industry has sought a light-touch self-regulatory mechanism to regulate online gaming platforms.  The session also saw participation from lawyers and members of the recently constituted inter-ministerial task force to regulate online gaming.

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This development comes at a time of regulatory uncertainty at the state level when the gaming sector has witnessed Covid19 induced unprecedented growth in terms of app downloads and revenue. The mobile gaming market in India is projected to hit a $5 billion opportunity by 2025 from the current $1.5 billion, according to a recent Sequoia India and Boston Consulting Group report.  According to the Indian constitution, online gaming is a state subject. Earlier, it was reported that the union government is planning to adopt a ‘uniform approach’ to regulate online gambling and real money gaming.

The stakeholders according to a report on Money Control sought to establish self-regulatory organisations (SROs) within the industry, quite similar to the country’s video streaming sector. They also requested to ensure the proposed regulatory framework be applicable across the country to ensure regulatory certainty for the nascent but fast-growing industry, people familiar with the matter said.

“It is heartening to note that Government of India through this task force and this consultative meeting under MoS MeitY Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar with industry are aiming to work towards an approach that will safeguard skill based gaming startups while striving to protect user and consumer interests,” Rameesh Kailasam, CEO of industry body that represents founders of Indian startups and investors, told Moneycontrol. counts Zomato, MPL, Dream11, Meesho, Steadview Capital and Falcon Edge Capital among its key members.

“We had submitted detailed recommendations to the Government of India on how centre should bring the much needed clarity for this sunrise sector, and possibly look at a process of whitelisting gaming formats through prescribed standards, so that online games of skill which are already judicially approved and those games following certain standards and principles of skill predominance are able to work without any uncertainties that currently emanate from different states’s interpretations of their own gambling laws,” Kailasam said.’