India’s Evolution of Fantasy Sports

Millions of people are playing some fantasy sport right now. What began as a fun game played among friends has become a multi-million dollar industry. Yet, there are many who simply have no clue what this is all about.

What exactly are Fantasy sports games? 

Fantasy Sports are online games of prediction, where you make a virtual team of real sports players. The points you earn are based on real-life statistics of player that are converted into fantasy points. Your fantasy game points depend on how your players perform in real life. A gamer who sets up his team is called a Manager.

You play against other managers and their teams. All players manage a roster by adding, dropping, trading and selling players to keep winning.

Players can track how their fantasy team’s performance through game-specific web sites or mobile apps. Some players join leagues with friends whereas many others join public leagues hosted by web sites and compete against strangers.

Exciting as these games are, the motivating factor for playing is also the persons connect to the sport by managing teams and making use of all their knowledge.

In India, players can create their own teams from a wide variety of sports such as cricket, football, kabaddi, basketball and other popular sports games. Fantasy sports in India has witnessed significant growth since its launch nearly two decades ago. Launched in 2001, the ESPN Super Selector Fantasy game was one of the first such game in India. Players could register their teams for free, with contest duration ranging from a month to a specific series. Since then, popular tournaments such as English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, ICC events, and IPL, developed games where people could manage their teams for the specific tournament.

With over 100 million players, Fantasy sports face a ban crisis with the government pushing back on it blaming suicide and financial issues. The issue arises from it being considered a game of skill vs game of chance especially since the former is legal in India.

This does raise a very important question. Is playing Fantasy Sports Legal in India?

Fantasy Sports consider themselves a game of skill, as to make a team that helps you win a contest, you need to be not only aware of the sport, but completely updated on the players, their form and performance and the various clubs playing the league.

To date, India has no clear regulatory framework especially for playing online fantasy sports.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports is India’s first and only Fantasy Sportsself-regulatory industry body, which was established to protect consumer interest and create standardized best practices in the Fantasy Sports industry.

According to the ruling of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in the case of ‘Shri VarunGumber vs. Union Territory of Chandigarh and Bombay High Court Gurdeep Singh Sachar v. Union of India, it was held that playing fantasy sports by Dream 11 involved a substantial degree of skill and did not amount to gambling. The Court held that the outcome of the game was predominantly influenced by the element of skill.

It should be noted that these courts only examined the format of Dream11 and did not analyse the formats and offerings of other fantasy sports operators. Since there are more than 50 other fantasy sports platforms in India, each with their own and all of them have a distinctive format and points system to judge the performance of each player, they may not fall into the same criteria as Dream 11 legally.

Dream11 is the world’s premier fantasy sports platform, with over 4 million gamers globally. Players can play Fantasy Cricket, Football, Kabaddi, and Basketball. The other Fantasy Sports apps like MyTeam11, Ballebaazzi, FanFight, My 11Circle also have a huge user base.

Fantasy sports has emerged as industry poised on upward growth. With Digital penetration and online presence, there has been a rise in the viewership of league matches. And, although Cricket dominates the sports market in India, there is been interest developing in Kabaddi, Football, Basketball, Etc. This interest has been given impetus by these fantasy sport games which have collaborated with big brands and sports celebrities.

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