Fantasy sports betting booms in India

Analysts expect the market to see new growth with the return of IPL cricket.
Analysts expect the market to see new growth with the return of IPL cricket.

Considered a skill-based game, fantasy sports betting is permited in India, and revenue tripled in the last year.

India.- Fantasy sports betting is booming in India, having seen gross revenue triple in the last year.

According to KPMG and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, gross revenues reached 2,400 crore (US$326 million) for the 2020 fiscal year, compared with 920 crore (US$125 million) for the prior year.

The number of users has increased from 2 million in 2016 to over 90 million in 2019.

While sports betting is illegal in the country, wagering on online fantasy sports (OFS) is considered a skill-based game and is allowed.

Roland Landers, head of the All India Gaming Federation said: “Online skill gaming in India was already on a growth trajectory in the first half of the calendar year and the last quarter has witnessed a major spike in the business.”

Operators in the booming field are becoming mayor players. That’s the case of unicorn company Dream11, which recently became the title sponsor for the 13th IPL season. Its parent company recently raised US$225 million in its last round of investment.

Ranjana Adhikari, a lawyer with Nishith Desai expects the return of IPL cricket will allow fantasy sports operators to bounce back from the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown.

He said: “Indian Premier League cricket is by far the most popular sporting event in India. It’s the equivalent, or if not more, than the World Cup, it’s almost like a religion in India. Fantasy sports are looking forward to this as finally a live event.”

Cricket represents 85 per cent of the fantasy sports market, and the IPL alone about 40 per cent. Dream 11 has 90 per cent of the market share.

Regular sports betting remains illegal in India, although betting is allowed on horseracing. During the Covid-19 pandemic, racing clubs that requested permission to accept online bets were allowed to do so.

Fantasy sports betting, like betting on horseracing, is considered skill-based so is allowed under Indian law.

Adhikari said: “Courts have looked at the format. With Dream 11, you make a team and there are certain rules you adhere to and there are restrictions. You are perhaps increasing the difficulty level in regards to sports betting.”

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