Jay Sayta is a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) graduate from W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) Kolkata. He runs http://glaws.in/ India’s first and only website monitoring gambling, betting and lottery laws. Jay has researched and written extensively on gambling and betting laws for various online and offline publications and academic journals like The Statesman, Scroll, The Wire, Swarajya, Asia Gaming Brief etc.
In 2015, Jay filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court to enforce the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976, a four decades legislation that legalised casinos in the state of Maharashtra. Based on Jay’s PIL, the High Court directed the government to consider implementation of the casinos legislation in a time-bound manner. Currently, the state government of Maharashtra is looking at permitting licensed casinos based on Jay’s PIL. Jay has also been quoted as an expert on gaming laws in various publications such as Financial Times, Times of India, Mint, Economic Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, India Today, Caravan, The Sunday Guardian etc.
Jay has also spoken on the issue of gambling legislation at various fora such as Indian Merchants’ Chambers (IMC), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), ICE Totally Gaming, All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) etc. Jay has advised many Indian and International gaming, betting and lottery companies on various legal, regulatory, taxation and commercial aspects. Jay is also a consultant and legal advisor to Delta Corp Ltd., one of India’s largest and only publicly listed gaming and hospitality company with interests in casinos, real estate, hotels and online skill games.
Jay: There have been quite a few exciting and positive developments for the gaming industry in India over the past few months. Several online gaming and esports companies have received funding from some of the most prominent venture capital funds as well as some of the biggest internet/e-commerce companies in the world.
Online fantasy gaming companies have also received much needed clarity in the form of a High Court decision on the tax to be paid and legality of the model adopted by them.
Q. What are the steps taken by the government to encourage foreign capital and improve ease of doing business? Do you see any movement towards regulation of sports betting and other forms of gaming?
Jay: As of now, the central government has not given any indication on what it will do about this issue. However, it is encouraging to note that some Members of Parliament have taken the issue to raise this issue and even attempt to introduce legislation.
Several state governments have however shown great interest in promoting esports, gaming and casinos, and there might be some major policy decisions taken by a few states in the near future.
At a broad level, the central government is keen to attract foreign investment and foreign capital, and is taking various positive measures. The recent measure to reduce the base rate of corporate tax to as low as 15% for certain categories of new companies, as well as across the board reduction in corporate income taxes are very encouraging initiatives.
The government has taken various steps to promote digitalisation of the economy, which is very encouraging for online gaming companies and promised several other key reforms in the land, labour and capital markets. One hopes that liberalising gaming laws will also be one of the reforms on the agenda of the government in the near future.
Q. What are the new trends emerging in the Indian online gaming industry?
Jay: Over the past few months, we have seen several companies coming out with innovative games and formats to keep the players engaged. Several kinds of quiz games, fantasy-based games, prediction games as well as other multiplayer casual games have been launched by many brands and this continuous evolution of games and formats is likely to continue in a bid to retain users and keep them engaged.
Q. What were the key takeaways from SPiCE 2019 and what were the contributing factors to its success?
Jay: SPiCE 2019 encouraged all stakeholders to exchange their thoughts and ideas in a freewheeling atmosphere. The venue of the event is perfect and people not only enjoyed interacting with one another but also enjoyed the scenic beaches and floating casinos of Goa. Eventus International’s broad reach to the global gaming community has been a major factor in ensuring that a large number of delegates and speakers from across the globe attend the event.
Q. What are your expectations from SPiCE 2020?
Jay: SPiCE 2020 is expected to be bigger and better than the previous two editions with one day of the event dedicated to affiliate marketing. The event will attract some of the biggest and brightest minds in the gaming industry talking about all aspects of the industry- marketing, payments, taxation, regulations and technology. The SPiCE networking party on day one, after party on the last day and the poker tournament for attendees on day two is something to look forward to!