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Online gaming industry urges govt to set up self-regulatory body for sector

Niti Aayog has recently pitched for setting up a single self-regulatory organisation for the online fantasy sports industry to be governed by the independent oversight board and also had suggested restricting online fantasy games to users of 18 years and above.

Although the GoM deliberated on separate definitions for 'games of skill' and 'games of chance', it finally decided to tax both as demerit goods attracting a 28 per cent GST. (file)

The online gaming industry on Monday urged the government to set up a self-regulatory body to standardise regulations for the entire online skill gaming sector and not just the fantasy sports industry. The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) in a statement said like fantasy sports, India’s skill gaming industry suffers from the same byzantine set of state-by-state laws and regulations.

“There is an equal, if not a larger need, to regulate the broader skill gaming industry,” it said.

Niti Aayog has recently pitched for setting up a single self-regulatory organisation for the online fantasy sports industry to be governed by the independent oversight board and also had suggested restricting online fantasy games to users of 18 years and above.

Commenting on the contribution of the skill gaming industry to the government’s pro-growth vision, Games24x7 co-founder and CEO Bhavin Pandya said the sector has tremendous potential to provide a healthy and responsible form of entertainment.

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“Given the significant overlap between fantasy sports and other games of skill (which today include games like pool, carrom, quiz games, etc., in addition to Rummy), we believe that Niti Aayog’s draft paper should include the broader skill gaming industry,” he said.

In a draft report titled ‘Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India’, the Aayog had said that there is a public interest in the fantasy sports industry receiving the government recognition as an industry and having its own identity.

A single self-regulatory organisation for the fantasy sports industry should be recognised by the government, it had added.

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Deepak Gullapalli, CEO of Head Digital Works that operates online rummy brand A23 and fantasy sports platform Fanfight, said the gaming industry in India has attracted several marquee investors who have supported the development of the overall market.

“A common self-regulatory body will result in the removal of a lot of uncertainty for foreign investors, spur foreign investment to the tune of a few billion dollars, drive innovation, employment and taxes,” he said.

Online Fantasy Sports Platforms (OFSPs) offer fantasy sports contests.

Fantasy sports are not like any other form of online gaming as it is dependent on actualities, seasonality and availability of real-time sports matches, which makes it a non-addictive form of play.

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This sets it distinctly apart from other forms that are perceived to be in the nature of gambling or betting.

Commenting on the growth of an entrepreneurial culture driven by skill gaming in India, Junglee Games founder and CEO Ankush Gera said there has been a huge spurt in entrepreneurial activity recently, with over 275 game development startups active today.

“This is more than a 10x increase in the number of industry players in the last ten years. The gaming industry employs over 50,000 highly qualified technologies, design, and product development resources,” he said.

First published on: 18-01-2021 at 20:18 IST
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