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India’s fast-growing gaming sector has undergone a slew of important developments in recent months with no signs of slowing down. Just a few weeks ago, we had reported that the country’s only gaming unicorn Dream11 had changed its name to Sporta Technologies in preparation for venturing out into other gaming verticals. The fantasy sports major also has South African gaming company Naspers Ltd. interested in making a secondary transaction worth $100 Million (~₹710 Crores) in the firm at a rumored $2.5 Billion valuation. In another game-changing move, Dream11 has succeeded in acquiring the official partner rights of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)! The company along with LafargeHolcim (ACC Cement and Ambuja Cement) and Hyundai Motor India Ltd. has been announced as an official partner by the BCCI for all its international and domestic matches. The partnership will remain in effect from September 1, 2019 to March 31, 2023.
Moving over to the game publisher Nazara Technologies that is eyeing an IPO next year and in preparations of the same has gone ahead with its recently-announced plans to acquire a majority stake in Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd., the parent firm of Sportskeeda. Company founder and director Nitish Mittersain confirmed on August 22 that Nazara has invested ₹44 Crores in acquiring a 67% stake in Absolute Sports at a valuation of ₹65 Crores.
In other updates, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) released a new report on digital gaming titled ‘Online Games- A Tool for Learning and Development.’ The report focusses on the various benefits of digital gaming.
In international news, Cambodia has announced a blanket ban on online gambling, while New York’s loss-making Resorts World Catskills has been acquired by the Genting Group from Empire Resorts.
Only a few days back we had reported that the South African technology behemoth Naspers was looking to make a secondary transaction worth $100 Million (~₹710.62 Crores) in India’s gaming giant Dream11 aka Sporta Technologies. The company has charted unparalleled growth in recent years with its registered user base crossing 5 Crore in February this year, and the fantasy major continues to consolidate its dominating lead in the market even today. As per latest reports, the company has succeeded in acquiring the ‘official partner’ rights from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Dream11 is amid the three companies that the BCCI has announced as its official partners – the other two being LafargeHolcim (ACC Cement and Ambuja Cement) and Hyundai Motor India Ltd.
These three companies were finalized after a formal process involving Expression of Interest. They will partner BCCI for all its international and domestic matches for the period between September 1, 2019 to March 31, 2023.
Divulging this in an official statement on August 23, BCCI said, “The consolidated winning bids were at a price of ₹222.74 crore to be paid for the 2019-23 home season. The consolidated winning bid was ₹2.59 crore, which is at 72% incremental value in comparison to the previous per match value of ₹1.5 crore.”
Incidentally, e-commerce giant Paytm had also sought to acquire the official partner rights from BCCI but instead gained the title sponsorship rights for the same period for ₹326.80 Crores that translates to ₹3.8 Crores per match.
The partnership is a step forward in the BCCI – Dream11 collaboration. At the beginning of March, Dream 11 had entered an exclusive, four-year partnership with the latter becoming the official partner for the VIVO Indian Premier League. The same month Dream11 teamed up with seven IPL franchises and cricketers for multi-channel marketing during the IPL season this year.
The company is also the exclusive fantasy gaming partner for the International Council of Cricket (ICC), Pro Kabaddi League, National Basketball Association, Big Bash League, Indian Super League, and the International Hockey Federation.
A month back, we had reported that online gaming company Nazara Technologies Ltd., was looking to invest in Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd., the parent firm of Sportskeeda. In a recent announcement, the company has confirmed that it has invested ₹44 Crores in the sports content portal, acquiring a 67% stake in Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd at a valuation of about ₹65 Crores.
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Commenting on the acquisition, Nazara Managing Director Nitish Mittersain said, “We at Nazara are building platforms for fan engagement across all aspects of sports entertainment, and we believe that this move will serve a triple play offering to the 100-million strong network through content, competition, and community across all emerging markets.”
Mittersain added that Sportskeeda will be focussing on premium subscription content going forward, apart from driving revenues through sponsorships and advertisements. He also stated that the company will focus on real money gaming as it has tremendous potential in India.
Talking about this latest development, Sportskeeda CEO Porush Jain said, “Nazara’s acquisition and investment into Sportskeeda is an important milestone in our journey. From our modest beginning as a multisport blog in 2009, we have become a one-of-a-kind sports content platform. We have our eyes set on becoming the world’s largest multi-sport platform by leveraging Nazara’s geographical reach in the sports-crazy Middle East and Africa markets.”
Nazara has recently been in the news for being on the verge of closing investments in Sportskeeda, real money quiz app Qunami and fantasy gaming portal Halaplay. Following this latest acquisition, Nazara Technologies has now set its sights on launching its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in early 2020.
The company received the SEBI approval for an Initial Public Offer (IPO) launch last April but is still to go public. Clearing the air on the delay, Mittersain said that the launch of the company’s IPO will be preceded by the closing of multiple acquisition deals. One of these acquisitions is that of a Sportskeeda.
Mittersain added that with Nazara acquiring a 67% stake in Sportskeeda, Nazara aims to reach a total of 100 Million monthly active users through Sportskeeda’s network. This investment will complement Nazara’s portfolio, enabling cross networking opportunities and strategic partnerships between the investee companies.
On August 20, at a launch event in New Delhi, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) released an industry report titled – ‘Online Games: A tool for learning & development.’
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The report comprises of experts’ opinions on the positives of digital gaming and benefits of better hand-eye coordination, reduction of stress and anxiety, team building, improvement in decision-making skills, etc.
The report was launched by Olympic medallist boxer and Rajya Sabha MP MC Mary Kom. “While the conventional thinking is to categorise all forms of digital gaming as harmful, careful research and analysis indicates that there are many positives that accrue from Digital Sports Gaming. In today’s time, with the growing digital infrastructure, eSports can reach out to an innumerable set of people in different cities who do not have a proper sporting infrastructure and provide them with a platform to showcase their skills,” said Kom during the launch.
Kom further added, “It is needless to mention that all gamers need to be cautioned against the overuse of online games at the expense of other physical activities.”
The industry report contains testimonials on the benefits of esports for learning and development from experts such as South Asian competitive esports champion Ankur Diwakar, leading educationist Fatima Agarkar, mental health experts Sanju George and Divya Jain, along with Counselling Psychologist Ishita Pateria.
Following the report launch was a panel discussion wherein experts like Agarkar, Pateria, Lokmanyu Chaturvedi (Pro Gamer), and Dibyojyoti Mainak (General Counsel, Mobile Premier League) gave insights on the advantages of digital sport games, gaming methodologies used in teaching, enhancement of life skills, mental aptitude, lowers stress, better hand-eye coordination, critical thinking and psychosocial skills through gaming etc.
Expressing his views on the subject, AIGF CEO, Roland Landers said, “The proliferation of digital infrastructure, high-speed internet and growing technology have led to a tremendous growth in the online gaming industry. There are an estimated 300 million mobile gamers in India. The number of digital gaming companies has also seen a rapid rise. In digital sports gaming players like Mobile Premier League (MPL) and First Games from the PayTM stable taking the lead in driving growth in this sector.”
Aiming to check illegal gambling, the government of Cambodia has announced a ban on online gambling.
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In a recent directive, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen said that foreign criminals were using the online gambling industry to extort money. Citing the need for maintaining social order, Prime Minister Sen said the government will “stop the issuance of online gambling policy and licenses, both within and outside the Kingdom of Cambodia.”
He explained, “Some foreign criminals have taken refuge in the form of this gambling to cheat and extort money from victims, domestic and abroad, which affect the security, public order and social order.”
PM Sen’s announcement comes just days after the country’s Interior Ministry issued a warning that local gamblers who were accessing internationally licensed online gaming sites could become prey to phishing schemes and data theft.
The move comes in the wake of the recent arrest of 127 Chinese nationals from the Sihanoukville region located on the country’s southern coast. The arrested group was allegedly involved with extortion and operating an illegal online gambling racket. The ban, however, does not apply to operators that currently hold a government license for online gambling. They will be able to continue extending online gambling services until their licenses expire.
According to local media reports, the authorities have already begun a massive crackdown on illegal gambling operations and detained hundreds of people.
The prohibition of online gambling is also aimed to encourage the country’s land-based casinos. As of April 30, 163 Cambodian casinos were functioning under government-granted licenses.
New York’s largest upstate casino Resorts World Catskills has gone through tough times lately. Just two weeks after news broke that the casino may file for bankruptcy, the Empire Resorts-owned casino was reportedly acquired by the Malaysian gaming giant Genting Group.
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The Genting Group already holds 86% of the company. Earlier this week, Empire Resorts announced that it was planning to sell the remaining shares to the company for $9.74 per share, which is approximately 15% higher than the current market value of the company’s shares. The sale is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, and as it goes through, the casino will no longer be publicly traded.
Talking about the deal, President of Empire Resorts Ryan Eller said, “With the resources and support of Kien Huat and Genting Malaysia, Empire Resorts will be better positioned financially and operationally, which will help us advance our mission of delivering a winning combination of luxury facilities, quality entertainment, and exceptional customer service.”
In addition to buying the remaining shares, the Genting Group has also upped its funding to the casino from $52 Million to $77 Million. The fund influx may be aimed at adding a fresh breath of life to the casino that has recorded a loss of $73.5 Million since it opened. The deal also brings the number of casinos that the company owns to 40.