The controversy with gambling companies seeking to pass themselves off as gaming and esports companies and categorised as such has been going on for a while. Since 2018 these companies have been trying to mask their way in being called gaming companies and even participated in the Indian Game Developers Conference.
The IGDC governor Rajesh Rao has gone ahead to defend these companies by stating that they are making ‘games of skill’. But Akshat Rathee, co-founder of Nodwin Gaming, which is the official partner of ESL in India has spoken out against these companies.
In a recent interview with AFK Gaming (behind paywall) Rathee stated, “Across the world RMG or real money gaming businesses show up, make tons of money on the backs of a large base of people losing games, and eventually governments call it gambling. The largest of these companies either fight back or they obtain gambling licenses and continue to operate in a regulated manner. In such a scenario, the government collects tax and license revenue, the companies continue profiting and responsible gambling remains the overarching theme.”
Rathee may put himself in a difficult position by stating these things, since Nazara which bankrolls Nodwin Gaming now, has a large stake in the gambling games.
This could be adverse for video games
The victim of this whole situation is going to be the gaming community in India since the real game developers don’t have the kind of financial backing these gambling companies do. And this IGN article highlighted how they are moving forward with it.
One instance where gaming has been victimized was back in October last year when Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that 132 websites in the state which serve as gambling platforms. And this list happened to include website like EA which has developed popular games like FIFA and Apex Legends.
“Individual states that have been led to believe that RMG equals gambling took it upon themselves to start banning ‘online gaming’,” says Rathee. “A term that may accidentally cover more than just the businesses of real money gaming and fantasy sports.”
And the precise need of the moment is distinction between what qualify as video games and gambling apps in India.