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The co-founder of India’s top-rated fantasy sports platform has recently commented on the rising legal hurdles for online gaming and entertainment businesses in India. While court battles have proven Dream11’s legitimacy repeatedly, they have also helped define the gaming market. Crucially, local know-how has been the chief ally of desi companies in fighting off foreign competition.

Regulations a Necessary Entry Barrier

Getting investors to believe in his fantasy sports idea was only one of the challenges, Dream11 CEO and co-founder Harsh Jain has recently commented during a tech summit. Overcoming a series of legal hurdles has also turned out to be a serious task, yet a meaningful one, since the company proved time and again that it was not offering illegal gambling.

Founded in 2008, the online startup became India’s first gaming unicorn back in 2019, after having proven the feasibility of its concept season after season. Skill games for money have been allowed for decades, both according to Supreme Court decisions and several High Court cases. But having to defend their cause and explain publicly the nature of paid online gaming has also helped shape market and legal practices, Jain insists.

Any aspiring casual gaming platform or an online casino India can access needs to overcome the competitive advantage of desi companies that have been on the market for years. Most have had to adapt to regulatory changes, overcome legal challenges and fight for their legitimacy harder than to find a profitable business model.

In his view, this has protected local startups from offshore competition for a number of years. The complex legal climate can still be seen as more of an opportunity rather than an obstacle, holding back well-funded foreign digital businesses and.

Nurturing Local Entrepreneurial Spirit

Jain and many of his kind are now eager to encourage next-generation digital entrepreneurs. Based on their experience, many Indian-based venture funds screen and finance small and mid-size tech startups. Jain himself contributed $100 million to Tenacity Ventures in September 2021 (half the funds currently), while Dream11’s parent company has also launched its $250 million tech fund earlier this summer.

In a way, authorities and businesses might finally be thinking alike, India’s tech industry is hoping. When Karnataka announced its paid gaming ban in early October, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) expressed concerns that offshore companies would escape the regulation and Bengaluru-based platforms would need to close down.

But the State’s home minister added soon after that foreign businesses would need to comply just as strictly as local ones. Blocks based on IP address and location have been the main control mechanism so far but government sources assure that there’s active monitoring in place and foreign-based operators will not have a free ride around the new laws.

This, in the eyes of many established Indian entrepreneurs, is yet another chance to prove desi ingenuity and build upon years of know-how and local competitive advantage. Arguably, however, the best course of action for authorities is to work together with industry leaders and consumer groups. Finding a well-regulated solution to paid online entertainment casinos like 10Cric is in the interest of all, and could serve as a learning curve for upcoming digital battles ahead.

© The Eastern Herald
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Synthia Rozario
An editorial staff member at The Eastern Herald. Formerly, correspondent of The Eastern Express, Hong Kong.