All India Gaming Federation hosted its first edition of “AIGF Knowledge Series”, sponsored by MPL, Spartan Poker and Gameskraft with Meghalaya as the Partner State. It concluded the two-day virtual event scheduled on 7 and 8 April 2022. Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma graced the occasion with his presence as the chief guest and delivered the inaugural address. This edition is focused on Meghalaya and the recent regulatory framework, legalities and the future of online gaming in the state.
The Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma in his inaugural speech said, “I am indeed very thankful to the All India Gaming Federation for having me here today. Online skill gaming is a sunrise industry as it has reached 1.5 billion US dollars in size and expected to double in size by 2025. This industry is a direct beneficiary of the Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiatives started seven years back. The gaming industry at large has a huge potential to be an engine of growth, employment and innovation across the world. We are happy to partner with the industry through AIGF Knowledge Series with spotlight on Meghalaya today and tomorrow. My team and I are looking forward to hearing from domain experts on best practices that we as a state can deploy to build a strong gaming ecosystem in Meghalaya.”
The first day of the webinar saw a range of eminent speakers from the gaming industry as well as other stakeholders, including bureaucrats and ministers. Govt of Meghalaya minister for registration, taxation and stamps James Sangma and Government of Meghalaya commissioner and secretary, Taxation Sarika Aggarwal Synrem, IT & Industries – Telangana principal secretary Jayesh Ranjan, senior counsel Aryama Sundaram, MPL (Mobile Premier League) co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas, former bureaucrat and Skill Games Council member Dr. Sutanu Behuria, former bureaucrat and Skill Games Council member PK Misra, were amongst the speakers who shared their insights on various important themes including ‘Importance & Benefits Of Regulating This Sunrise Sector By States, ‘Global Best Practices – Online Skill Gaming’, ‘Online Skill Gaming – Judicial Acceptance’ amongst other regulatory led topics.
Speaking on the occasion, All India Gaming Federation CEO Roland Landers said, “It is an honour and privilege to have the Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Conard Sangma grace us with his presence for this edition of the AIGF Knowledge series. Meghalaya as a state has the potential to become one of the most progressive and massive markets for the gaming industry, if the framework is inclusive. The AIGF is delighted to provide the platform where senior industry leaders and domain experts from the bureaucracy, legal, regulatory, business, social media and investor backgrounds, to come together and have meaningful discussions that will go a long way in shaping the future of this growing industry.
The second day of the webinar was power packed with insightful panels on topics like ‘Media Platforms and Online Gaming’, ‘Building Efficiencies In The Gaming Ecosystem’, ‘Life Skills and Online Skill Gaming’ and a fireside chat on ‘Online Gaming Investors Session’.
Many dignitaries and key stakeholders form the gaming ecosystem including; Spartan Group co-founder and CEO Amin Rozani, Media Studies director and Skill Games council member Prof. Farhat Basir Khan, Advertising Standards Council of India secretary general Manisha Kapoor, Paytm lead gaming Amit Yadav, Yes Bank senior group president Ajay Rajan, Cyber Laws MeitY sr director and group coordinator Rakesh Maheshwari, AIIMS professor and head department psychiatry Dr. Rajesh Sagar, educationist, Skill Games council member Fatema Agarkar, Invest India senior assistant VP and head – technology, media, telecom and ESDM Atul Bisht, and Sequoia chief public policy officer Shweta Rajpal Kohli participated and concluded the two day series.
“With such a power packed AIGF Knowledge Series event, we are positive that the Indian online skill gaming industry will be seen in a different and a progressive light. Our aim with this series is to begin insightful and riveting discussions across strategic gaming themes and also collaborate with key states in the future for greater outreach and awareness. I am thankful to all the eminent speakers who contributed their insights through various discussions on the online gaming landscape and the potential it holds,” landers added.
Government of Meghalaya commissioner and secretary Sarika Aggarwal Synrem and AIGF general secretary Sunil Krishnamurthy gave the valedictorian address for day one and day two respectively. The event was scheduled keeping in mind the international audience, who are keen to consider the developments in gaming in Meghalaya, as well as keep abreast with the pace this industry has set across India.
The “AIGF Knowledge Series” is a cohesive module to spark up conversations and create awareness about the online skill gaming landscape. The series will be held in collaboration with different states in the country to foster insightful and riveting discussions across strategic gaming themes through panel discussions, fireside chats by various domain experts from the industry and gaming ecosystem.
Key Takeaways from the day one discussions:
- Digital India initiatives accelerated the online skill gaming industry with increased penetration of smartphone and high-speed internet
- Creation of an enabling environment will foster a regulatory framework in the gaming sector
- From a state perspective, it has been observed that from early 2010s, states have been under a lot of pressures pertaining to fraudulent, illegal acts, etc. The regulatory bodies including the police did not have the capabilities to regulate online gaming effectively. Hence blanket ban seemed like a viable option that time.
- In the last few years, it was realised that blanket bans are not a solution and there is a need to regulate and bring in a self-regulation mechanism like the one practiced by the AIGF
- There is a need for clarity in terms of taxation, having a rational tax slab will result in revenue generation as well as create a regime where businesses in the sector can do a good job in running the business
- Once there is regulation in place, the menace of grey market operators can be eliminated
- Stability in the sector will help the young gamers to learn a lot of digital skills and shape their careers at large.
- Constitutional principles have been applied by various HC’s has established that online games of skill even if played with an entry fee is not gambling bringing business certainty to this industry.
- Meghalaya recently came out with the gaming regulation act and the primary reason for it was because the state understands the potential of the gaming industry in a tourist-friendly state like Meghalaya
- Governments should to work in collaboration with the AIGF and protect the players and the legitimate gaming industry.
- A game that requires adequate amount of knowledge, skills, ability and intuition to play should be considered has game of skill and be regulated under the law.
Key Takeaways from the day two’s discussions:
- Gaming today is going faster than most media and is expected to at least triple in size to about $4.5 billion or more by 2025
- The media penetration has increased. In the last five years, India has added subscribers via Google every second and has tripled its internet user base, adding trade and subscribers every second in both urban and rural areas
- Talking about the investment in infrastructure, we are the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer, assembling 10 smartphones every second. Hence, we are seeing India as a mobile first gaming market
- Average monthly data in India is more than that of US, which is 14 GB versus 11 GB for US.
- Very interesting trends emerging is the rise of winning games. There is a possibility of different kind of engagement, which will help push a lot of maturity in the ecosystem
- There’s AR, VR, AI, Data Science and technology will define what consumers adopt and there are enough insights available that portrays consumers adopting a lot more than what they used to three years back
- The importance of a gaming company to have platforms like Facebook and Google today is imperative for the kind of reach and the kind of web, are cost effective compared to mainstream media channels
- Critical observation for innovation needs to come in support from SM platforms, Metaverse and needs to essay together to gain the faith and confidence of the consumers and the authorities.
- Gamification is going to disrupt the sector. History shows that teachers used gamification as a mode to effectively teach students on various subjects
- Online gaming has also proven to benefit the overall mental health. Addiction is not directly related to online gaming, there are many other factors which needs to be addressed
- Games are used as a coping mechanism to improve social anxieties and many other mental health issues and learn important life skills
- Online gaming has also provided a platform for building meaningful relationships