Indian lobbyists push for skill gaming regulator


India’s skill gaming industry is lobbying for standardized regulations, giving fantasy sports, rummy and poker operators a more consistent ruleset to work with throughout the country. They are pushing for the NITI Aayog, a government-think tank, to go a step further and set the industry up for a more stable future.

In December, NITI Aayog put forward draft guidelines for a Fantasy Sports regulator, citing the need to supervise and support a booming industry. Now, several other segments of the skill-gaming industry want in on the deal.

Sameer Barde, CEO of The Online Rummy Federation, doesn’t see why his game should be left out. “It is a brilliant move to have fair regulations for the online skill gaming industry in India… 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.”

Games24x7, which develops rummy, fantasy sports and other ‘casual games,’ takes a similar view. “NITI Aayog should take a more forward-looking view and recommend a framework for all games of skill,” said Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and CEO. “Fantasy is one game of skill, and while distinctions have been made in the media between fantasy and other games of skill, the judgements which rule that fantasy is a game of skill are based on the 1996 Supreme Court judgement which rules horseracing and rummy to be games of skill… In law, there is no distinction between fantasy sports and any other game of skill.”

The skill gaming industry is desperate for some sense of normalcy, not finding it from the country’s many states. Skill gaming is legal in India, but local courts continue to debate the finer points of what counts as skill gaming, and if it should be allowed at all. The industry wants to get firmly established as legislators push for broader gambling laws. Trying to stop Indians from gambling is like trying to play cricket quicky; you just can’t do it.