Last week Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy demanded a ban on 132 websites as part of the state’s sweeping crackdown on online real-money gaming and gambling, which it deems a “social evil”. Curiously, the list of websites included several websites that have nothing to do with real-money gaming. These include casual gaming website miniclip.com, a proxy website for downloading popular esports title Fortnite, and EA Games, the website of a popular American video game developing company which has developed popular esports title such as FIFA.
It is worth noting that in September, the Andhra government amended its Andhra Pradesh Gambling Act, 1974 to ban online gaming and gambling websites
This week, taking a cue from his neighbouring state’s sweeping crackdown on online real-money gaming, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the government will soon pass legislation to arrest those running and playing gambling games online.
“The Tamil Nadu government taking a note of the situation has decided to swiftly pass legislation for arresting people running the apps and those playing the gambling games that involve betting money,” he said on Twitter.
If Tamil Nadu does indeed ban online real-money gaming, which effectively bars companies operating skill-based real-money card games such as poker and rummy from functioning, it will join a growing list of Indian states who’ve formally deemed real-money gaming as a social evil and proceeded to outlaw it with amendments to the law. In Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, there’s a blanket ban on card games played for money.
In states such as Sikkim and Nagaland, while the respective state governments have excluded the staking of money on games of skill from the ambit of gambling, the operators of online portals for such games are mandated to get licenses for conducting such games within state boundaries.
Besides the fact that the Public Gambling Act, 1867, the centre’s enactment on the subject, is outdated since it doesn’t take into account gaming or gambling in the virtual space, a section of the populace that refuses to delink ‘gaming’ and ‘gambling’ has also been dogging the online gaming industry’s growth.
On a related note, after hearing a plea on the fallout of online gaming, the Madras High Court has issued notices to Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly. The Madurai Bench of the HC also issued notices to actors Prakash Raj, Rana Daggubati and Tammana Bhatia.
Nevertheless, the week did have some good news for gaming and esports aficionados. A TechCrunch report, citing sources, claimed that PUBG Corporation, the parent of popular battle royale game PUBG Mobile, which was banned by the Indian government in September as part of its ban on 118 Chinese apps, has told some of the game’s high-profile streamers in the country that they can expect to resume the services in India before the end of the year.
The company has also been in talks with local companies like Paytm and Airtel to check whether they’d be interested in publishing the application in India to further gain the trust of the government.
- Startups with technological know-how, engaged in the edtech and fintech sectors such as BYJU’S, Unacademy, Zerodha, UpGrad and Razorpay, have ramped up hiring in the last couple of months, even as joblessness continues to rear its ugly head in an economy whose GDP (gross domestic product) declined by 23.9% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
- After nearly two years of waiting, short messaging app WhatsApp has finally got the permission to start its digital payments venture in India. The feature will be available in 10 Indian regional language versions of WhatsApp from today (November 6). The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has also placed a 30% cap on UPI transactions through every third-party payment app (TPAP). The new norm would apply from January 2021 for new TPAPs, whereas the existing ones will get two years starting January 2021 to comply with the 30% cap in a phased manner.
- Like online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip, Yatra has also shown minor signs of recovery from its dismal financial performance in the first quarter of FY2021. The company, in the second quarter, has recorded a revenue of INR 26.3 Cr ($3.6 Mn). It had earned only INR 19.2 Cr ($2.5 Mn) in the first quarter of FY2021.
- Bengaluru-based social media platform ShareChat has recorded a 166% spike in its monthly active users base from 60 Mn during the pandemic to 160 Mn till now. Over these months, the daily average user time spent on the platform has also increased from 24 minutes to 31 minutes, the company’s cofounder and CTO Bhanu Pratap Singh has said.
- Amazon India, on Thursday (November 5), announced the launch of its online grocery store Amazon Fresh in four more cities, namely Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune and Chennai. The company says that the service has been launched in these cities through the expansion of its specialised network that enables ultra-fast delivery services of daily essentials and grocery under the Amazon Fresh Store on Amazon.in.
Among the movers and shakers this week, Pinelabs has appointed former Square and Facebook senior executive Gokul Rajaram as an advisor.
From the funding and acquisitions corner, about $28 Mn was invested across 18 Indian startups this week.