Dream11, online gaming operators in India want to join NFT fray amid legal uncertainties

Dream11, online gaming operators in India want to join NFT fray amid legal uncertainties

Online gaming companies in India are looking to launch their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs), according to sources familiar with the matter.

NFTs may replace in-app purchases

Reports surfaced recently that Indian gaming platforms like Dream11, Mobile Premier League (MPL), and Nazara Technologies’ subsidiary Nextwave Multimedia are making their foray into the NFT space, following the success of online games that sold NFTs for a sizable sum of money.

NFTs are non-interchangeable units of data stored on a digital ledger like blockchain for public proof of ownership. Though they can’t be replaced with another unit, these tokens can be associated with items that are easily reproduced like photos, audio, video, and even digital art. With the real money gaming sector experiencing a steady growth in user base as casual games gain more popularity, experts say digital tokens appear to be the next logical step for the industry and has the potential to even replace in-app purchases.

The India gaming market for instance has seen a dramatic rise in adoption, especially during the pandemic as more consumers turn to the digital route to play their favorite roulette game in the comforts of their homes.

P.R. Rajendran, founder and CEO of Nextwave Multimedia which runs the World Cricket Championship franchise, said: “NFTs are exciting because they fulfil a number of demands. For instance, people play WCC for years, some also find it as part of their childhood. Over the period, these users have accumulated a lot of assets and now for it to be used, they share their login and password with other users. NFTs can streamline this along with other use cases.”

Should regulators also look into digital tokens?

The popularity of NFTs, and the reported foray of Indian gaming companies into the digital token space, adds another layer to the already hot debate on how the online gaming sector is to be regulated in the country. Regulators and real money online gaming operators in the country are already at odds on what the regulatory landscape should look like, that even the best online casino in India is not spared from India’s outdated laws.

The prices of digital tokens tend to fluctuate, rising and plummeting based on the perceived value of the market, NFTs are seen in some cases as a form of gambling. And with many states in India still in the midst of contemplating real money gaming regulation, is this another area for regulatory oversight that needs to be regulated?

If yes, then this would only further stall India’s already slow journey towards an updated regulatory framework. To move forward, India’s government officials need to discard the archaic laws in favor of a uniformed regulatory framework that allows the market to keep up with the rapidly changing technologies and give authorities better flexibility for potential updates.

Analysts at ENV Media explained it best in their report on regulated markets, saying, “India is a particularly emblematic case of similarly impending regulatory needs. The prohibition of betting is widely seen to have been ineffective. In such contexts, certain authority recommendations cannot be overlooked. Emerging markets (India in particular but not only) will benefit from creating their own Central regulatory framework, a Gambling oversight body, and a Consumer Data protection regulation.”