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Most executives said bans on real money games such as rummy and poker could hurt the entire industry.
Most executives said bans on real money games such as rummy and poker could hurt the entire industry.

Gaming firms seek distinction from gambling to avoid bans

  • Firms want to ensure laws don’t club regular games and gambling games together

The online gaming industry has begun distancing itself from real money gaming (RMG) platforms who are facing regulatory backlash in some states on fears this may impact all online gaming portals in the long run.

“I don’t want such firms to tarnish the reputation of our gaming industry," said the founder of a gaming firm, seeking anonymity.

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Most executives said bans on real money games such as rummy and poker could hurt the entire industry. While the government think-tank NITI Aayog has recently recommended setting up of a single self-regulatory body for online fantasy sports (OFS), rules on gambling are still a state subject and have legal ramifications.

Tamil Nadu, for instance, banned online gambling from November. In March, the Supreme Court pushed the OFS sector in a state of uncertainty when it stayed a Bombay HC order which said these were games of skill. “I’m seeing all investors too confused between gaming and gambling (RMG), hence preferring to invest in RMGs and totally ignoring the legal risks" said Vishal Gondal, co-founder of nCore games. “Some investors are also pushing a lot of gaming firms to start making real money games, thinking this will give them higher valuations which is a bad sign."

“Many states are now trying to create laws (around online gambling) and we just want to make sure they do not include regular games in their laws. Also, we don’t want parents to start telling kids to not play games because they too may confuse it with gambling," he said. Gondal added that while the outcomes of fantasy sports leagues depend on real world sports, online gambling games are driven by algorithms that aren’t audited by any regulatory organization, and bots and algorithms could be tampering with the odds.

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