India Briefing


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WHEN: 10:30 to 13:00 (GMT) - Wednesday, 8 February 2017
WHERE: South Gallery Room 23, ExCeL London

Cost: FREE to Attend - Register Today

As India has finally seen the launch of the first licenses and operations in the province of Sikkim and the pressure mounts to regulate sports betting due to the integrity scandals, ICE is honoured to welcome delegation from India once again to provide a status report on the performance of regulated gambling over the last few months and offer insight into the regulatory future.

See below more information on the developments that have affected gaming in India over the last year.

In a form of interactive roundtable, the discussion, involving the audience questions, will focus on sports betting and lottery and include the following experts as speakers/contributors:


10:30 -10:35 Welcome by FICCI

Vinay Mathur, Deputy Secretary General – FICCI

10:35-10:45 Chaired and Special remarks by Chief Guest

Dr. Justice (retired) Balbir Singh Chauhan, Hon’ble Chairman, Law Commission of India*

10:45-11:00 Presentation and observations by

Roland Landers, CEO-AIGF

11:00-12:25 Interactive discussion

  • Growth in the online skill games industry
  • Issue of licenses for online skill games by the Nagaland government and greater recognition for online games from governments
  • Investments by leading business houses, M&A activities in online poker, rummy and fantasy sports companies
  • Greater social and legal acceptance of skill games like poker
  • Sportifying skill games- Will PSL be a gamechanger?
  • Progress in dialogue with state governments and other governmental organisations on legalising sports-betting, lotteries and casinos
  • Lodha committee recommendations on legalising sports betting and response of the government
  • Law Commission of India study on legalising sports betting and reforming gambling laws
  • Discussions with the Kerala, Puducherry, Karnataka and other state governments on allowing gaming/casinos
  • Impact of demonetisation and rollout of GST on the future of the gaming industry

Session moderated by: Vidushpat Singhania, Partner, Krida Legal and Jay Sayta, Legal Advisor, AIGF.


11:55-12:00 Vote of Thanks by

Rajpal Singh, Director – FICCI


Developments in the Indian gaming industry in 2016

Background and update

2016 was an eventful year not just for the gaming industry but for most of the economy.  One date however is certain to go down in history books this year and that is 8th November, 2016. It was on that fateful day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes (that constituted around 85% of the total currency in circulation), will cease to be legal tender from the succeeding day (with some exemptions). The currency notes will necessarily have to be deposited in bank accounts and upto a certain threshold can be exchanged in specified locations.

Due to this demonetisation, casinos in Goa, Sikkim and Nepal have been deeply impacted in the last couple of months, with business falling by 80% or more, but expected to be back to normal in the next one or two quarters. The stock prices of Delta Corp, the only listed casino company have fallen by around 45%. Illegal gambling, betting and matka (illegal gambling on digits) businesses, rampant in India, have almost been eradicated.

It is however believed that the slowdown for the legal casino and gaming business will only be temporary in nature, while there will be permanent damage to the illegal betting and gambling syndicates, which operate solely on the basis of black or unaccounted money.

In the past one year, since the last India Briefing at ICE 2016, there have been various other developments which have impacted the gaming industry. Here is a look at some of the key developments in the past one year:

  • Growth of the online skill games industry: The online poker, rummy and fantasy sports industry has seen rapid growth with major business houses investing in this sector. Leading real-money online poker website was acquired by Delta Corp for an estimated deal value of US$25-28 million. Some other major conglomerates, including Essel Group have forayed into the online social games and skill games business. The world’s biggest online poker website, Pokerstars, operated by the Canada-based Amaya Group, has also indicated that it will launch an Indian poker website in 2017.
  • Launch of online gaming and betting centres in Sikkim: In May, 2016, Golden Gaming launched India’s first licensed online gaming and sports betting arena in Sikkim. Another license holder, EGT Games (part of the Essel Group) has also launched online gaming centres in the state. Licensed online gaming and betting in the state of Sikkim is permitted only through intranet and the operations of licensees cannot traverse the geographical boundaries of the state.
  • Licenses issued by the government of Nagaland for online skill games: The government of Nagaland had passed a law in 2016, regulating and licensing online games of skill like poker, rummy, bridge, nap, e-sports, daily fantasy sports etc., wherein operators could offer and advertise online skill games across all states in India, where online skill games are permitted. Based on the law and rules framed thereunder, Letters of Intent (LOIs) were issued to around 10 online gaming companies. In December 2016, the government issued final/go live licenses to four online poker companies. The legal recognition given to the online skill games industry is set to bring stability and credibility to the online skill games industry.
  • Launch of the Poker Sports League (PSL): In January 2017, Amit Burman, Vice Chairman of one of the largest FMCG companies in India, the multi-billion Dabur Group, announced that he was going to launch a poker league in his personal capacity. The league, which would be like other sports leagues. The first edition of PSL is set to be launched in the next 4-5 months. The league would entail 12 city-based franchisees (with 9 poker players in each team) competing with one another, online and offline in different formats of poker for a prize money of INR 3.36 crores (approximately US$ 480,000).
  •  Passage of the GST constitutional amendment Bill: The landmark Goods & Services Tax (GST) Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed by the Parliament in September, 2016 and ratified by most of the state legislatures. Touted as the largest indirect tax reform since independence, GST is set to subsume most indirect taxes and levies. Notably, all taxes on gambling, betting and skill games would also be subsumed within the ambit of GST.

The central government is currently fine-tuning the rules and tax-rates pertaining and GST is set to be rolled-out by the second quarter of 2017. Once implemented, GST will bring uniformity in the rate structure, make tax compliance easier and reduce litigation and disputes.

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