Games24x7: The games industry needs a regulatory structure, says Bhavin Pandya, CEO of Games24x7

Mumbai: Real-money games such as cards and fantasy sports continue to face regulatory hurdles in several states in the absence of a proper legal framework, even as online gambling has exploded in terms of the number of users and investor interest after the Covid-19 outbreak.

The gaming industry needs a regulatory structure because legitimate operators are struggling as several companies were offering real-money gambling under the guise of ‘games of skill’, Bhavin Pandya told ET in an interview. , co-founder and CEO of all-new gaming unicorn Games24x7. .

Games24x7 raised $75m last month at a $2.5bn valuation, catapulting it into the unicorn club, or private companies valued at $1bn or more, joining Mobile Premier League and Dream Sports, which runs the online fantasy gaming platform Dream11.

“As an industry, we will have to solve two problems. Firstly, under the guise of games of skill, all manner of betting and gambling operations occur…and secondly, gambling operators around the world are coming and operating in the market just under the radar through surrogate marketing,” Pandya said.

The company also shared its recommendations with the Animation, Visual Effects, Games and Comics Promotion Task Force (AVGC) that was proposed in the budget.

“The body is certainly, in our opinion, a way in which we can reach out to the government as well,” he said.

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On March 30, Karnataka asked the Supreme Court to challenge a High Court judgment striking down some key amendments to the State Government Police Act 1963, prohibiting betting and wagering in online games. . Laws banning online gambling have also been struck down and reversed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“We think legally we have been and are on a very strong footing. That’s why you saw three wins in the High Court,” Pandya said.

In October, Dream11 had to suspend its operations in Karnataka following complaints alleging a violation of the state’s newly implemented gambling ban. Bengaluru Police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against co-founders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth over a complaint that the Mumbai-based company continued to offer gaming services on its platform a week after the state government notified the new rules prohibiting “gambling”. .” The amendment which prohibited betting and wagering in online games was struck down and the FIR was struck down by the Karnataka High Court.

Growth and diversification businesses

Games24x7, whose portfolio includes skill games (RummyCircle, My11 Circle, carrom) and casual games (U Games), was founded by New York University-educated economists Pandya and Trivikraman Thampy in 2006.

The Mumbai-based startup has grown its online fantasy league platform My11 Circle through aggressive advertising during the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). It is the title sponsor of the Lucknow Super Giants.

Pandya said its customer acquisition targets may exceed expectations.

The company has over 100 million registered users across all games.

“In the current IPL, we are going to greatly exceed our expectations. We have been able to acquire a very healthy rhythm. The general industry ratio of paid casual players on the platform is 15:85. However, My11Circle has showed a change in trend with a huge increase in paid players in this IPL season,” Pandya said.

The company’s rummy business generates over 70% of its revenue, followed by My11 Circle which generates around a quarter of revenue.

Pandya said gamers on fantasy platforms typically bring in very low revenue per user and easily switch to different platforms.

In the interest of diversification, it seeks to use its internal expertise in data science to offer business-to-business solutions to gaming companies. Acquisitions in games and technology will also be a critical area for future growth, Pandya added.

Unicorn and IPO roadmap

Prior to its fundraising earlier this year, Games24X7 raised undisclosed amounts from Tiger Global in 2011 and 2012 and Raine Group in 2019.

Amid the 2021 fundraising frenzy, it was important for the company to get into the unicorn club, especially to hire good talent. “It was to establish a valuation marker… It became difficult to compete in the market as we were looking for talent,” he added.

During the IPO frenzy that India’s startup ecosystem witnessed last year – where Zomato, Nykaa, Paytm and PolicyBazaar hit Indian stock exchanges – Games24X7 was under pressure to list, given that ‘It was also profitable,’ he said.

“For us, it’s not about doing an IPO when the market is hot, but when the company is hot,” Pandya said.

He said the company would agree to an IPO by the end of this year or early next year.


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