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'Niti Aayog must include rummy, skill games in draft policy'

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Panaji, Jan 18 (IANS) Niti Aayog’s guidelines for fantasy sports should cover the entire gamut of online skill-based games, including rummy, which accounts for 50 per cent of the overall industry revenues, a stakeholder body, The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) has suggested.

The federation has written to the Niti Aayog that the Indian skill game industry is suffering from varying and inconsistent laws enacted by state governments and standardisation of norms and regulations would help streamline the industry.

“The fast-growing skill-based games like rummy, account for approximately 50 per cent of the overall industry revenues. Fantasy sports is a part of the overall skill-gaming industry,” Sameer Barde, chief executive officer of the federation, said in a statement on Monday.

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The federation, founded in 2017, is a self-regulatory bodyset up by online rummy operators in the country.

The recent guidelines proposed by the Niti Aayog are aimed at streamlining the fast growing fantasy sports sector by unifying the norms under one single policy.

The federation in its recommendations to the Aayog has stated that online skill-based games like rummy, whose size according to the consultancy firm KPMG is estimated to be around Rs. 5,250 crore, should be covered in the scope of the national body’s policy.

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“Fantasy sports is a part of the overall skill gaming industry. At TORF, we have worked with global gaming regulatory experts from the US and Europe to design transparent, professional, and ethical operating standards for the online Rummy industry called the acode of conduct’,” Barde said.

“The aim is to prescribe and enforce a range of measures for online rummy operators that bring more responsibility to their operations and enhance their credibility and integrity, which we believe would also serve as a great starting point for the self-regulatory body for the industry,” he added.

According to Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and CEO, Games24x7, which operates RummyCircle — one of the biggest online rummy platforms as well as fantasy sports platform My11Circle, inclusion of rummy and other skill-based games in the Niti Aayog’s policy paper would eliminate illegal operators from the industry.

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“Such an approach would produce tremendous benefits for the country. Standardised rules and regulations for India’s entire skill gaming industry will ensure that the tens of millions of players in India get service from responsible operators,” Pandya said in the statement.

“It will eliminate the vast number of illegal and unscrupulous operators that are now serving the Indian market. This move will help generate over Rs. 10,000 crores in direct and indirect taxes annually for the government by 2025, and create thousands of jobs through direct and indirect employment,” he also said.

–IANS

maya/aak/in

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