e-gaming startup winzo: WinZo slams government against egaming self-surveillance plan

WinZo, online game startup opposed the idea of ​​joining a Self-regulatory body (SRO) for online gaming companies, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

It comes amid efforts by the government to draft guidelines for online gambling.

WinZo had written to the Minister of State for Electronics and Computing Rajeev Chandrashekhar expressing his views on the structure of the SROs in June, the sources said.

Besides WinZo, other game companies have also had internal differences over the issue and there is consensus that an SRO may not be enough for the industry, the sources added.

“WinZo has officially sent its note to the government (in June). But the companies are of the view that one SRO may not be enough,” said one of the sources. “There are also concerns among companies like WinZo that an SRO structure could also lead to governance issues if driven by fantasy gaming platforms,” another person added.

WinZo identifies itself as a real money gambling platform based on skill and not chance.

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Contacted, the founder of WinZo Saumya Singh Rathore told ET that the company was opposed to an SRO structure.

“As a stakeholder, we agree on the urgent need to revamp the regulatory framework for the digital gaming industry,” Singh and co-founder Pavan Nanda wrote to the ministry in a letter dated June 24.

The founders added that the application of governance by SROs in the digital gaming industry was not possible “due to a well-documented history of an inability to achieve desired results in other sectors such than financial securities…”.

However, the founders of WinZo also signed a follow-up memo to Chandrashekhar on June 27 – which was co-signed by 79 other game companies – recommending how games of skill should be defined.

ET recently reviewed a copy of the two letters, the contents of which have not been made public so far.

WinZo hosts around 100 third-party skill-based games, including fantasy cricket and football, chess, carrom, racing, and others. The main argument of the platform is the excessive influence of certain gaming companies in the sector on the SRO.

“It should be noted that nascent sectors are often susceptible to the growth of monopolies and the resulting intense competition. The concern is also that the process contemplates an approval of each game by an SRO, prior to launch. The requirement disclosure of some intellectual property – to industry peers – is inherent in this process, which provides no incentive for any industry to thrive or innovate,” according to the first letter.

Singh and Nanda said strategic advantage can be lost due to the inherent inefficiencies that creep into the certification process by an SRO.

WinZo’s stance on ORS comes at a time when it sued Google over its recent policy allowing daily fantasy sports and rummy games on the Google Play Store as part of a pilot project, leaving out a large segment. from skill game platforms and independent developers.

ET reported on August 23 that the rules of games under the IT Act would contain self-regulatory clauses and that the gaming industry has already been instructed to come up with an SRO which can review and adjudicate on various aspects related to online gambling. .

“A self-regulatory framework with the implication of controlling any monopolistic entity or entities may prove counterproductive to the competitive spirit of the market, by creating barriers to entry for new era players” , adds the note sent by the founders of WinZo.

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