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Playwin-Sportech JV To Launch Online Cricket Pools In India; Regulatory Issues?

Update: via email, from Sportech PLC:

“As you know, Sportech entered a joint venture with the Essel Group in January 2010. The joint venture’s first project was Sportshero, a sports-based gaming site, offering free to play prediction and fantasy sports games. The site has since evolved to one focused on sports editorial content. Sportshero has never offered pool games; as the oldest football gaming business in the world, Sportech adheres strictly to regulations and integrity.

Subsequent to the launch of Sportshero, Essel was awarded a provisional online gaming license from the state of Sikkim. On receipt of the full license, the licensee will be entitled to provide gaming in Sikkim. Sportech will provide Essel with certain services in relation to its activities in Sikkim, specifically to support it’s pool gaming platform. Essel will operate it’s online gaming site completely separately from Sportshero, which will remain focused on sports news and views.”

August 29th: Sportech PLC, one of the key UK-based Football pools businesses, expects to launch Cricket Pools in India in the second half of 2011, the company has said in an earnings announcement. Sportech has a 50:50 joint venture with Essel Group owned lottery business Playwin in India, and operates the website SportsHero. A “pool” is essentially a betting system based on predicting the outcome of a match or an event. Betting on most sports is illegal in India, but reports suggest that – at least where Cricket is concerned – it is is big business. The Essel Group has a provisional “gaming” license from the Sikkim government, apparently one of three – and this could well become a means of introducing legalized pools across India, via the Internet.

A report in the Telegraph suggests that SportsHero was planning to launch Cricket pools before the India-England test series, but couldn’t because of “regulatory hurdles”. It was going to allow betting on “numbers of runs before lunch and the timing of the fall of wickets”. At present, SportsHero only features Cricket news, apart from some Horse Racing news. In the earnings announcement, Sportech says:

“…we anticipate a trial launch of the cricket pools into the state in the near future and would expect the roll out of products across India in due course as regulations allow”…”As a consequence of emerging regulation, our primary focus during 2011 has been working with our partner to extend their activities into the provision of pool games, initially on cricket and football.”

When MediaNama had checked earlier this year (in March 2011, when we had contacted Sportech), SportsHero was running contests around the Indian Premier League, as it was doing in March 2010, Cricket related prediction contests around the Indian Premier League. From our report:

The T20 Dream Run contest has a top prize of rs. 150,000, and users have to choose from one of three questions to predict correctly per IPL T20 match. DeamRun can also be played via SMS ( SMS JOIN to 57575) using the Essel Group short code. The terms and conditions appear to be outdated, with details related to SportsHero Fantasy Cricket 2008.

For now, the site appears to have been purged of all things related to gambling/gaming – we couldn’t find any pools or prediction contests. We’ve contacted Sportech for a clarification on whether it shut the contests down.

Also note that the website for PlayUp India, which ran the controversial 6UP prediction contests, doesn’t appear to be working, but they do have an active Twitter account, and a game on Facebook.

More when we have it.

Related: Playwin and Sportech JV Launches SportsHero

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