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Neela Mediatech announces strategic partnership with JioGames

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Neela Mediatech is the gaming, animation, and E-commerce, a business extension of the IP of ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’  

Neela Mediatech’s gaming platform TMKOC PLAY, built on the leading IP, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah has announced a strategic partnership with JioGames. With this partnership, the company aims to roll out 50+ games on the JioGames platform targeting a significant base of Indian mobile and cloud gaming users.

JioGames users will now have the opportunity to enjoy a diverse selection of games centred on the theme of ‘TMKOC’ and immerse themselves in the roles of their cherished characters from the series. This partnership will enable JioGames to welcome fresh users from the existing audience of over 60 million captivated by the ‘TMKOC’ intellectual property.

Announcing this partnership, Mr. Asit Modi, Creator, Producer and Managing Director of Neela Film Production and Neela Mediatech, said, “TMKOC and Jio are familiar names in households nationwide, and their user base extends even to the remote corners of cities and towns. Therefore, it’s a strategic move to capitalize on each other’s strengths. This partnership will facilitate an expansion of our user base, providing an exceptional digital entertainment experience.”

Neela Films, the production house recently invested INR 24cr into Neela Mediatech, the gaming, animation and e-commerce business as an extension to Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah IP. The company has recorded 5 million game downloads, and their YouTube rhymes channel has expanded its subscriber base from 1.5 million to 3 million in a brief span. This growth encompasses multiple languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Bhojpuri and Gujarati.

The platform will host free-to-play games and cloud-based adventures, for both single-player and multiplayer gamers. Bhide Scooter Race, TMKOC Air Hockey, Bhide Pickle Delivery, Gokuldham Kite Flying and Tapu Skating Adventure are the first of many games that are available on the platform.

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PAGCOR PHOTO CONTEST DRAWS 2K EARLY REGISTRANTS IN 1ST WEEK

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THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) today reported a robust response to its much-anticipated annual photography contest after close to 2,000 individuals registered to join in the first five days after the contest launch on February 15.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said the state gaming firm’s official website (www.pagcor.ph) also logged an 85.49% increase in page views compared to the previous week after the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest opened.

“We also monitored a 73.43% increase in our website users after we announced the start of the photography competition,” the PAGCOR chief said.

“We are optimistic that with the bigger cash prizes, lower age requirement and the new drone category, we will entice more professional photographers and hobbyists to join and showcase their talent in this competition,” he said.

With this year’s theme, “Harvest Time”, the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest will highlight the Filipino’s strength of character, patience and hard work in the fields leading to and during the harvest season.

The contest also celebrates the dedication of farmers, fishermen and other producers whose labor ensures food security and sustenance for the nation.

“The summer months of April and May will be a colorful and festive season for the country, especially in the countryside. The fields are ripe for harvest, the trees are laden with fruits and the flowers are in full bloom,” Chairman Tengco said.

“We hope that our contest participants this year will be able to immortalize the remarkable and bountiful resources of the Philippines that some of us take for granted,” Chairman Tengco added.

PAGCOR has earmarked Php2.23 million for the competition’s cash prizes this year, demonstrating its commitment to recognize the outstanding work of Filipino photographers while promoting the country’s rich identity and traditions.

Entries may be submitted until July 31, 2024.

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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?

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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?
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By Dr Aruna Sharma, Practitioner Development Economist & Retd Secretary GoI

 

Could you provide insights into the current market potential for iGaming in India, and what key challenges do you anticipate the industry facing in the near future?

The popularity of online gaming as a form of entertainment in India has surged with the widespread availability of inexpensive smartphones and affordable internet access. Global investors, developers, and other industry stakeholders are keenly watching the growth story of the Indian online gaming industry which has witnessed a 28% CAGR between FY20-23 and holds a market valuation of ₹16,428 crores.

However, instead of direct contribution in the economic growth story of India the online gaming industry is contributing in terms of increasing revenue (direct and indirect tax) collection (year-on-year). Additionally, the sector has attracted budding tech developers and entrepreneurs by providing them employment opportunities and fueling innovation to keep up with the rising demand for AI and other such immersive gaming experiences.

After some crucial and elucidative changes in the regulatory and taxation policies by the government in 2023, one can hope that 2024 for iGaming will thin the clouds that are shadowing accelerated growth of iGaming in India. 2024 holds promise for iGaming in India. While full regulation may take time, positive court ruling and increased focus on non-RMG segments could cause a casual gaming boom, potentially unlocking a multi-billion dollar market. However, regulatory uncertainty and potentially high tax rates remain a hurdle for attracting investments and interest of other stakeholders in this growing market and industry.

 

What are the main challenges facing Indian iGaming and how different are these challenges within the different regions of India?

  • The government is focusing on reducing threats like false information, mental health problems, money laundering, and financial losses for users by bringing rules and regulations such as the IT Rules, establishing SROs and SRBs.
  • Adequate regulation, that is conducive to doing business, is needed, first of all, to protect the Indian players. Because in the current situation, Indians are being abused by countless nefarious parties. Checking and curbing the illegal gaming platforms and enhancing mechanisms to ensure increased user awareness and behaviour while indulging in online gaming.
  • A pressing concern that requires governments urgent attention is to put in place parameters that differentiate between games of skill and chance for taxation.
  • As a fallout of high and retrospective taxation the industry is facing job losses, advertising and spending cuts and reduced investments in research and innovations.

Additionally, policy and regulatory compliance for the platforms have become increasingly complex with both center and state governments legislating on the same subjects and multiple ministries regulating the industry.

 

Delve into the necessity for a regulatory framework that is both balanced and adaptable.

Unregulated framework where user base is large leads to spread of iGaming in gray market with all its vices. By regulating the iGaming industry, the government can unlock other positive outcomes, such as increased tax revenues, economic growth via attracting more foreign investment, job creation, and better consumer protection. A thorough regulatory framework will enable transparent parameters to distinguish and license the game of skill accordingly and rest will fall under game of chance.

Regulations always bring in transparency and ensure there is no misleading advertising or non-payment of legal taxes. Additionally, regulations such as the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 have ascertained a robust grievance redressal mechanism by setting up of the SRBs and SROs.

Further a balanced and stable regulatory framework could provide assurance and confidence to the international iGaming companies in paying taxes while doing business in a regulated and transparent market, create jobs, and invest in the country and its people. Thus, comprehensive regulations, that are conducive to doing business and protect the Indian players, who are being abused by countless nefarious parties are necessary in the current iGaming landscape.

Consequently, foreign iGaming companies operating legally have consistently demanded that the Indian government establish an adequate and stable regulation and taxation regime. Instead, the government has consistently chosen to unwisely prohibit it, thus pushing this whole industry underground. Furthermore, iGaming companies face unfair persecution and baseless lawsuits from India.

 

The new 28% GST on online gaming has produced divided opinions about the industry’s future in India. How has the industry reacted to it?

Industry initially panicked at the 28% tax, fearing slow growth and reduced investments. The partial relief, clarification on the regulatory compliances have brought cautious optimism. Smaller firms remain anxious, fearing the high rate still discourages players and favors larger businesses. Long-term impact depends on pending Supreme Court judgment on game classification and potential tweaks to the tax structure.

The applicability of a flat 28% tax on the total value of bets placed in online gaming, irrespective of whether they are games of skill or chance has upset the applecart that was moving smoothly with the evolution of agreed principles among SROs and the oversight by SRB with clear distinction of the regulatory body between Games of Skill (permissible games) with that of Games of Chance.

The matter is now being reviewed by a Group of Ministers (GoMs) comprising of officials from ministries such as the Home, Finance, MeitY, etc. to reconsider the GST and how to counter episodes of money laundering and other such scams and frauds.

 

Finally, what can we expect from Indian iGaming as a whole this year, if you were to sum it up in three key points?

It is expected that 2024 will set pace by bringing in clarity in rule making, consistency of rules, inculcating a more stable policy environment that enables India to not miss the bus of becoming a hub for developers. The iGaming industry is expected to tighten its grip for filling the digital divide, enabling learning of cognitive skills and enhance conscious citizen messaging to further tap into the positive side of iGaming.

Additionally, iGaming industry should leverage technologies like blockchain to further the purpose of transparency and tracking of digital payment as a technical solution and for permanent storage of records to curb money laundering. Alongside formulation of regulatory policies, a stricter implementation of policies such as IT Rules (establishing SRBs), mandatory KYC, and compliance with Advertisement Standard Council in India (ASCI) norms for iGaming industry need to be inculcated in ensuring safe and secure gaming platforms.

The future of the gaming industry holds promise of growth, however, there is still a hazard that due to absent market regulation and destructive policies, international iGaming companies shun India, sending an unwelcoming signal to many other potential foreign investors.

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2 PEOPLE CAUGHT OPERATING ILLEGAL ONLINE GAMING SITE

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Twelve people suspected of involvement in illegal online gaming operations were arrested today, February 16, in an exclusive Parañaque City subdivision after a month-long surveillance, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco said the arrests were made by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) together with the PAGCOR monitoring team.

“The raiders were armed with a warrant to search, seize and examine operations of computer data against the suspects who were caught red-handed while operating the illegal online gaming platform https://www.tbb888.com or the Big Bet,” Chairman Tengco said.

The illegal gaming site has been operating games like slot machines, live casino, e-sports, among others. Authorities seized from the suspects eleven computer sets, 21 mobile phones, 2 ipads, 6 laptops and flash drives, according to the PAGCOR chief.

Onsite examination revealed that the confiscated gadgets contain evidence of the group’s illegal online activities, said PAGCOR Senior Vice President for Security and Monitoring Cluster Raul Villanueva.

The raid was conducted inside BF Northwest Subdivision, an affluent enclave whose residents include some of the most prominent political and business leaders in Parañaque.

Mr. Villanueva said cases will be filed against the suspects before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court.

“The operation was part of our unified efforts to intensify the fight against illegal online gambling because we have a marching order from PAGCOR Chairman Alejandro Tengco to put a stop to these illegal activities,” Mr. Villanueva said.

“We will continuously collaborate with law enforcement authorities such as the PNP and even the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to put a stop to these,” he said.

“We advise the public to stop patronizing illegal online gaming sites and instead play on legal platforms to protect themselves. Unfortunantely, most of the victims of these illegal sites are Filipino bettors.

“We are also working closely with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center under the Department of Information and Communications Technology because we have a lot more targets under surveillance,” he added.

According to Mr. Villanueva, close to 5,000 illegal online gaming sites were operating in the country at one time but 80% of these were already blocked.

“We need to consistently monitor and report them to authorities not only to protect the bettors but to also ensure that revenues from regulated gaming are channeled back to the government for its nation-building programs,” he said.

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