Published: 20th January 2021
Online skill gaming industry asks NITI Aayog to set up single self-regulatory body
The Supreme Court has since the 1960s distinguished games of skills from gambling and upheld the constitutional right to play and offer such games of skill
The online skill gaming industry has collectively recommended the NITI Aayog to set up a single self-regulatory body to standardise regulations governing the entire skill gaming industry. The recommendation follows a draft report titled 'Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India' wherein the NITI Aayog has suggested setting up a single, self-regulatory body for fantasy sports.
Like fantasy sports, India's skill gaming industry suffers from the same byzantine set of state-by-state laws and regulations. "It is a brilliant move to have fair regulations for the online skill gaming industry which is estimated to be around Rs 5,250 crore, according to KPMG. But at the same time, it is paramount to understand that fantasy games are only a part of the entire skill gaming industry. There is an equal, if not a larger need, to regulate the broader skill gaming industry." Sameer Barde, CEO, The Online Rummy Federation said in a statement.
The Supreme Court has since the 1960s distinguished games of skills from gambling and upheld the constitutional right to play and offer such games of skill. "Niti Aayog should take a more forward-looking view and recommend a framework for all games of skill. Fantasy is one game of skill and while distinctions have been made in the media between fantasy and other games of skill, the judgments which rule that fantasy is a game of skill are based on the 1996 Supreme Court Judgement which rules horse racing a and rummy to be games of skill," said Bhavin Pandya, Co-founder and CEO, Games24x7.
"In law, there is no distinction between fantasy sports and any other game of skill. In fact, certain games of skill like Rummy have multiple Supreme Court rulings in its favour while fantasy only has reasoned judgments from a couple of high courts," he added. The industry believes that having Standardized rules and regulations for India's entire skill gaming industry will eliminate the vast number of illegal and unscrupulous operators that are now serving the Indian market. The move will help generate over Rs 10,000 crore in direct and indirect taxes annually for the government by 2025, and create thousands of jobs through direct and indirect employment.
Deepak Gullapalli, CEO of Head Digital Works said: "More than 60 per cent of the companies that have raised equity are non-fantasy sports players." The growth of an entrepreneurial culture driven by skill gaming in India is huge. "The gaming industry employs over 50,000 highly qualified technologies, design, and product development resources and will empower the next generation of startups and entrepreneurs in India." said Ankush Gera, Founder and CEO of Junglee Games.
Commenting on the recent development of Esports inclusion in the upcoming Asian Games, Sai Srinivas, CEO, Mobile Premier League said, "it makes sense to regulate all games of skill together and democratize the wider ambit of Esports, especially given its inclusion in the upcoming Asian Games". Industry estimates show India is one the fastest growing online gaming markets globally with 400 million gamers with 75 per cent of the $1.2 billion revenue from the gaming industry coming from skills games.