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Thursday, January 21, 2021

How & why fantasy sports growing in India? Markets, games all you need to know

A big change is happening in India’s sports scene. Fantasy sports are growing in India. Booming is perhaps the right word to express its skyrocketing rise. Right from its market price, popularity, fresh style, format and many factors are playing vital roles here. The young gaming industry is going to cause a paradigm shift in Indian sports.

How & why fantasy sports growing in India? Markets, games all you need to know

What are fantasy sports? Is it connected to popular sports events like IPL, World Cup or ISL? There could be many questions in your mind about how the new sports industry is evolving India’s gaming scene. For the unversed, we shall discuss …

All the details on fantasy sports in India through 10 simple questions.

1. What are fantasy sports?

A fantasy sport, also known as rotisserie or roto, is a kind of game, often played using the Internet, where players gather as imaginary or virtual teams in of proxies of real players from professional sports front. These teams compete based on the statistical performance of the players in real-world games. This performance is converted into points that are compiled and totaled according to a roster chosen by each fantasy team’s manager.

According to a report by CNN, It began as a fun game played among friends. But today it’s a multi-billion dollar business that has a tremendous influence on real, live sports. Many of the same corporate interests involved in pro-sports have gotten on the fantasy bandwagon.

2. What are TOP 10 popular fantasy sports in India?

The number of popular fantasy sports in growing like wildfire in India. Here are the top 10 popular fantasy sports in India.

fantasy sports in India
Photo: Twitter

A. Dream11 – Dream11 comes under India’s biggest fantasy sports game with more than6 crore users and still counting. In April 2019, Dream 11 became the first gaming Indian company to enter the Unicorn club.

B. Halaplay – It is Daily fantasy sports (DFS) game for sports enthusiasts. It is a money-based fantasy game and the player can win cash prizes.

C. 11wickets – 11wickets is India’s fastest growing fantasy sports game. It is particularly for the cricket and football fans in India.

D. Fanfight – FANFIGHT is a fantasy game of sports founded in 2016. It is based in Hyderabad. It is a fantasy league sports game that hosts league for both cricket and football.

E. Mobile premier league – MPL is a Bangalore based e-sport platform. It was launched in 2018, and it has more than 30 plus games.

F. MyTeam 11 – My team 11 is one of the leading platforms for fantasy sports across India. Launched in 2016, it is having a user base of 15 million users and still counting.

G. Cricplay – Cricplay is India’s latest free fantasy games and sports.

H. My11Circle – My11circle is an online fantasy game platform owned and operated by Play Games24x7 Pvt. Ltd. for the cricket fans.

I. Sport Junki – SportJunki newest cricket fantasy sports apps in India. The app was launched on March 11, 2020.

J. Fancy11 – Fancy 11 is the fastest-growing Fantasy sports site. The platform is having more than 100k + downloads.

3. How do you play fantasy sports in India?

Here is the simplest way and win fantasy sports. The basic rules are same in India and rest of the world.

Join a league –> Prepare for your league draft by scouting players –> Build your fantasy sports team via the draft –> Your team competes against another team every week –> Make moves to improve your team –> Your team (hopefully) makes the playoffs and wins your league

4. Are fantasy sports and gambling the same? Is it legal in India?

If you are thinking whether to play such games, we let you know that fantasy sports that are based on the skill of participants to determine the outcome, are exempted from the definition of a bet or wager since they do not relay on chance or luck to win, unlike online bingo and online casinos.

These sports are called ‘Games of Skill’ where skill dominates over chance, with the result dependent upon the “relative knowledge, training, attention, experience, and/or adroitness of the participants”. So it means that ‘games of skill’ like fantasy games do not fall under the regulations prohibiting gambling under Indian law, though some state laws may differ. Debates are on about fantasy games’ legality. Laws might change also. But so far it is safe as per law. While stakeholders have often argued that fantasy sports is legal and a game of skill, they have still faced multiple battles around legality.

5. How is fantasy sports gaining popularity in India?

Our country is the future for this industry. India is fast emerging as the destination for fantasy sports. The growth is propelled by the overwhelming penetration of internet and smartphones. No doubt, cricket continues to dominate the sports arena, but the emerging generation is fast developing interest in other sporting activities, including hockey, kabaddi, football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball. In a way, this growing interest in other sports can be attributed partly to fantasy sports, which resulted in bringing together many large brands and celebrities, said a white paper by Indiatech.

The fantasy sports industry in India has drawn foreign investments worth approximately 1,500 crore between 2018 and 2020, according to a July 2020 report by the FIFS. However, the legality of these businesses has still been under question, with states like Assam, Orissa and Telangana choosing to ban them within their borders. On the other hand, high courts in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have passed landmark rulings for the platforms, terming them as games of skill.

6. Experts say it’s time to regulate India’s fantasy sports industry, why?

As per reports, in an advisory issued recently to all private television channels, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has urged all recipients to assiduously follow the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), on November 24 this year, while advertising to ensure that all communication is transparent and protects the consumer and at the same time prevent unlawful activity. Experts feel that the advisory is a timely warning, given the sudden proliferation witnessed in the online gambling space.

7. What is NITI Aayog’s move for fantasy sports?

India government think-tank NITI Aayog has now started taking serious steps into the fantasy sport’s sector. Its report calling for a single self-regulatory body for fantasy sports has come as a shot in the arm for the gaming industry. Leading players of the fantasy games market in India such as like Dream11 and Games24x7 (which runs My11Circle) welcomed the move. The industry leaders have said it would lend the industry credibility. Harsh Jain, chief executive and co-founder of IPL sponsor, Dream11, said the move would act as a “catalyst to this sunshine sector, remove ambiguities, and ensure further credibility for our industry”, said a report by Mint.

8. What does India’s fantasy sports federation do?

Formed in 2017, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) earlier known as the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming IFSG, India’s first and only Fantasy Sports self-regulatory industry body, was established to protect consumer interest and create standardized best practices in the Fantasy Sports industry.

FIFS aims to create a thriving ecosystem for fantasy sports users and operators by creating guidelines for a common set of practices, setting standards of operation and creating a regulatory framework to protect the fantasy sports user and operator interests. FIFS works with key industry stakeholders and liaisons with the policymakers to create a robust governance structure to support the sustained growth of the industry.

About the NITI Aayog move it gave its statement. “As India’s first and only self-regulatory industry body for fantasy sports, we have created standards of best practice and consumer grievance redressal mechanism for our member operators and fantasy sports users. These guidelines provide equal opportunities for all operators, protect consumer’s interests and curb any possible malpractices in this sector,” said Bimal Julka, chairman of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).

9. What does Supreme Court say about fantasy games in India?

The Supreme Court is yet to make a decision on legality of fantasy sports. Jay Sayta, who has advised many gaming companies, said NITI Aayog’s recommendations will have persuasive value and can be used as an additional argument by these companies in court. He also said the Centre should cover the entire gaming industry—which includes Rummy, Poker and more—instead of covering fantasy sports alone.

10. What is in store for future of India’s fantasy games?

As reports suggest, from December 15, real-money gaming platforms will not be able to advertise through ads full of promises of winning huge money in gaming jackpots. The advertising rules and guidelines introduced by ASCI require advertisements to make players and users aware of monetary and other risks involved in playing online games. So quite obviously, these rules will apply to advertising that is legally permitted.

If you remember, recently, fantasy sports platforms were in news when Google, as per its updated gambling policy, removed Paytm from its Play Store. The action was due to the Paytm app directing users to other gambling sites. The issue was soon sorted out, but the burning issue of the legality of online gaming is yet to be addressed. Online gaming has been walking the ultrathin line between regulations and legal spin. Time will tell if fantasy sports can win in India.

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