Real-money gaming deals, valuations accelerate on the back of favorable court rulings

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India’s real-money gaming industry is picking up pace after a series of positive court rulings across states in the country. The favorable environment in the country towards online gaming, especially in the wake of recent rulings, has led to the fantasy gaming platform Dream11 now being pegged at $8.5 billion, up from $5 billion as reported by Entrackr. 

Last week, gaming major Nazara Technologies announced the acquisition of OpenPlay Technologies, a platform that operates rummy-based games, for Rs 186.4 crore in cash and stock.

On the other hand, Mobile Premier League, offering 60 games that include fantasy sports and rummy on its platform, has doubled its valuation to $945 million.

According to industry experts, recent court rulings are driving investor confidence in India’s online gaming sector.

On July 30, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Rohinton F. Nariman and BR Gavai dismissed another Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by a chartered accountant and social activist Avinash Mehrotra claiming that fantasy sport games like Dream11 amounted to gambling.

“It has brought together all the judgments under one SC judgment, and this matter is no longer undecided. For us, (the ruling) creates complete certainty because it is based only on Dream11’s format of fantasy sports,” said Harsh Jain, founder, and CEO of Dream11, in an interview with CNBC TV-18.

The Madras High Court on 3 August struck down in its entirety the amendment to the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act which banned online games including online rummy and online poker with stakes, in what many in India’s online gaming business described as a landmark verdict.

Despite the court’s ruling, the Tamil Nadu government said it would bring in new legislation to ban online games.

The online gaming sector is also looking forward to the setting up of a council of ministers to explore an alternative tax structure for goods and services. There is still disagreement as to whether these firms should be taxed on the overall amount of money that consumers spend on competitions or only on the fees that these platforms charge.

“All of these moves take away the doom and uncertainty plaguing the industry for the last 24 months. While the perceived threat is still there and it is still not risk-free, the degree of grey is becoming whiter,” said a top gaming official. 

While legal wins are helpful, the industry’s capacity to prosper will rely on how regulation shapes up. With debates on addiction to gaming gaining steam, the industry must develop ways to guarantee that players do not spend too much time and money on their platforms, thus balancing growth and profitability.