Known for its array of mobile games including the World Cricket Championship, Nazara has seen growth in all of its segments recently. This includes the real money gaming vertical, which grew 67 percent from ₹42.6 crores to ₹13.9 crores in the financial year 2021. Nazara Technologies has made its next play in the skill gaming vertical: Nazara Technologies has acquired a 100 percent stake in skill gaming company OpenPlay for a total consideration of ₹186.4 crores.
Real money gaming makes up 2-3 percent of Nazara’s overall revenue, as it begins building a business in the real-money gaming vertical. CEO Manish Agarwal told Mint in an interview: “There was uncertainty in the regulatory landscape for real-money and skill gaming, but some positives are emerging along with clarity. This is also giving us the confidence to look at this segment and build a sizeable real-money gaming business. We are very confident of the strong product innovation which OpenPlay brings to the table, and will look to scale our skill and real-money gaming business with this acquisition.”
Based in Hyderabad, OpenPlay’s multi-game gaming platform under the “Classic Games” brand has several popular skill-based games ranging from fantasy sports to rummy and quizzes. The company is led by serial entrepreneur Sreeram Reddy Vanga and has an annualized gross gaming revenue run-rate of ₹80 crores.
OpenPlay is the second acquisition for Nazara in the skill-based real money vertical following the purchase of Halaplay in 2019. With the acquisition, OpenPlay now joins the “Friends of Nazara” network of gaming companies in which Nazara holds majority stakes, including Nodwin Gaming and Sportskeeds in Esports Next Wave Multimedia, and Paper Boat Apps.
Nazara is not only capitalizing on the popularity of real-time games, but it’s also keeping an eye on the developments happening at many online casinos and casual entertainment games for its own product offerings—particularly since casual games with real money gaming components is considered one of the fastest-growing segments in India.
Laws in India differentiate between games of skill and games of chance. Judicial precedents have provided that a game determined entirely by mere luck is considered a game of chance, while players must have a degree of mental and physical expertise to successfully play a game of skill. However, courts in India have already recognized that no game is pure “skill” alone, noting that almost all games involve an element of chance, be it skill-based blackjack games, fantasy sports, or casual games with real money gaming components.
Although Nazara has started cementing its place in the skill-based games segment, there’s no denying that the lack of understanding—coupled with the murky regulatory status of online gambling in the country—is pushing operators and investors away.
This is why operators and industry stakeholders are pushing for the government to regulate the industry now. As a report by SevenJackpots pointed out, “Transparent regulation will help the best gambling platforms prove their integrity to the public eye. Formal guidelines on online gambling will improve the business climate and bring benefits to State coffers. A regulated market is better than an illegally functioning one. Examples of effective gambling regulation are found easily: licensing, taxation, and monitoring come first. Corruption and lobbying need to be rooted out with precise legal definitions, altogether raising consumer protection standards.”