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Skill Based Gaming Industry and its phenomenal rise in India

by  Aman Singh  •  Last updated on 2021-01-28 23:02:28

India’s digital outreach campaign launched a few years back has given a much needed boost to the gaming sector and especially to the ‘Skill Based Gaming Industry’. One of the recent surveys conducted by KPMG (a leading agency in the gaming sector) suggests that 60% of tech-accessible Indian population plays at least one online game in their favored gadgets. Citing the abstract facts approx 500 million gamers are active in India.

In addition to this, a Google report published in December 2020 elucidates that a large chunk of prosperity enjoyed by online gaming niche in India is contributed by fantasy league games and skill-based gaming ventures. Not only this, the sector is pacifying at 20% year-on-year growth and expected to touch the magical figure of $ 1 Billion lifetime business by year 2021.  

Without wasting a further moment, let us discuss what categories of games are assigned as ‘game of skill’ in India and how games are separated as ‘game of skill’ and ‘game of chance’. Also, a brief discussion will let you know whether betting stands any chance in the forthcoming future to get a restrictive tag in India.

Game of Skills and its types

Indian apex court differentiated between ‘game of skill’ and ‘game of chance’ in the year 2017 while announcing a final verdict on the future of fantasy games.  As per verdict ‘Game of Skills’ in simple terminology is tagged for the series of games where a player firstly needs to invest a considerable time for learning, practicing and at last refining before the alleged skill is tested to perform in the distinct set of games.

Series of popular games enlisted as ‘Game of Skill’ in India are- ‘Teen Patti’, ‘Andar Bahar’, ‘Roulette’, ‘Baccarat’, ‘BlackJack’, ‘Live Monopoly’ and several other Indianized categories of ‘Live Casinos’ (You can easily find all enlisted games at INDIBET). Beside these, other popular Skill Games regulated in India are Fantasy League, Horse Racing and different categories of other local Rummy Games.

Popularity of Skill Games in India

Skill based rewarding games have already stretched a strong foothold within the Indian entertainment industry. All thanks to the cheap availability of data cards rate, the Indian skill gaming industry is marching towards a new height with 628 million active gamers. A recent survey executed by Deloitte suggests that card-based games accomplished a CAGR of whopping 67.58 percent in just three years and grasped revenue of 730 Cr in the meantime. Along with this, a big hit amongst Indian audiences, daily fantasy sports generated revenue of 2.91 billion U.S dollar in 2019 which involves a CAGR growth of whopping 199.89 percent while transforming into year-on-year basis.

Laws regulating the skill gaming industry in India

Indian Courts along with the corporation of state administrative bodies have recently decided to regulate the giant skill gaming industry in order to curb several fraudulent as well as behind the doors gambling activities. A legal framework in accordance with the fantasy sports league will be advocated in the coming 1-2 years and reputed government agencies like NITI Aayog along with Legal Framework Bureau have hinted the same.

The current stone-aged governance of skill gaming is in accordance with “Public Gambling Act, 1867” which prohibits “gaming” by individuals in designated “gaming houses”. Although, legalization for online games is still unclear and there is a wide loophole in-between which is needed to fill with ‘clearer laws’. In addition to this, all the money rewards triumphed through lottery puzzles, GK based shows accounts for flat 30% deduction from source of the actual amount.

How does India differentiate skill games and betting?

Any game being played in India which completely depends on the outcome of a real-life event without any direct involvement with a specific skill and won by mere ‘chance’ is categorized as betting and is strictly prohibited in pan India. All the regulated set of games for example fantasy sports (Dream 11) in which participants need to acquire a deep knowledge about the game, analyze recent past performances of probable team line-up, take note of weather condition and other related factors doesn’t count as a ‘mere chance’.

That is why fantasy sports, along with a specific set of games like Rummy, Card Games and several multiplayer online games are separated from betting and are categorized under ‘Game of Skill’. On the other side, physical sports betting along with lottery tickets and other forms of gambles are placed under ‘Game of Chance’ as they merely depend upon blunt luck.

A Final Verdict-Will online betting ever be designated as a skill game?

A very tricky question at the moment, as the decision on betting is onus of different state governments. Several tourist oriented states like Goa, Sikkim and Nagaland have already uplifted the prohibition and decided to regulate the betting and gambling economy.

Not only this, betting platforms like INDIBET have rolled out a smart ‘Fancy Bet’ sportsbook along with traditional fixed bet options. The proposed fancy bet lets you analyze different situations of game and bet accordingly on several events such as ‘Fall of Next Wicket’, ‘Runs in 5/10/15 overs’, ‘Innings Six’ along with other prominent listings. All the mentioned options are more than mere ‘prediction’ and accord a tough completion to fantasy league’s business model. If more and more betting ventures step ahead with out of the box ideas which require ‘skill’ then the day is not far when online betting will be categorized as a ‘game of skill’ in India.