The onset of fantasy sports in India has truly changed the way Indians interact with sports. While it is yet to replace entirely (or even match) the existing, traditional sports betting practices, it has brilliantly cemented itself as a self-sustaining engine that is too big to fail. Steered by Dream11, fantasy sports in India is seeing it all – from lucrative sponsorship and advertisement deals to joining hands with the giants of the cricketing world.
Seeing these developments, the proponents of online sports betting can’t help but wonder if this acceptance of fantasy sports in the country can translate into the same for its betting counterpart.
Dream11 – India’s First Gaming Unicorn
While there are numerous articles online that can accurately gauge the size of the fantasy sports market in India, the fact that Dream11 is now a billion-dollar startup says all there is to know about its popularity.
The Mumbai-based venture joined the league of elites last year when a round of investment put the company’s valuation at $1 – $1.5 billion. Fast forward to March 2021, when another influx of capital – $400 million to be precise – propelled Dream11’s valuation to $5 billion. This surge may very well be justified, especially considering that Dream11’s userbase alone is upwards of 100 million. In addition, roping Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their brand ambassador, sponsoring the Indian Premier League in 2020, and getting favourable rulings from high courts in Punjab and Haryana have all helped its case.
The fantasy sports market has grown exponentially over the last few years, so much so that plenty of other fantasy gaming ventures have also ballooned in the same time. Even though Dream11 enjoys the lion’s share of the market, it hasn’t stopped the likes of Mobile Premier League, HalaPlay, and other similar companies from offering their services. Even though their market share isn’t a whole lot, whatever little there is seems to be worth competing for.
In comparison to traditional sports betting, however, fantasy sports has still got ways to go. The market size of the latter is in order of hundreds of millions of dollars, all of which is largely underground, unregulated, and not covered by the scope of the law.
Fantasy Sports Classified as a Game of Skill
For the uninitiated, this is how fantasy sports gaming works, as explained in the position paper published by ENV Media titled, ‘Sports Betting – India’s Favourite Invisible Giant.’
“Emphatically skill-based, online fantasy sports gaming involves creating a custom team made of real-life athletes from actual cricket, football, basketball, kabaddi, or other professional leagues. These virtual teams receive points based on actual player performance statistics during real-life matches. Final rankings determine competition and league winners.”
Audiences can play either in free mode or enter paid leagues wherein prize money is awarded to the users with the highest points/ranking. In the former, the revenue stream comes from advertisements, sponsorships, and brand partnerships, while in the latter, service fees are levied, ranging between 15 to 25 percent of the total money pool.
Fantasy games are dubbed as games of skill in India for the simple reason that it requires substantial skill and analysis to create a custom team that features players from both sides in the competition. The High Courts of Punjab and Haryana have ruled favourably in this regard. Even the Supreme Court of India has upheld that Dream11’s sports format falls under ‘game of skill’ rather than chance.
This entire thing appears to be a colossal paradox because sports betting is deemed illegal owing to the gambling element – despite very well being the other side of the same coin.
Firstly, any sport – be it cricket, football, badminton, kabaddi – is a game of skill in itself. The element of chance involved is relatively minimal – the outcome or the winner is determined by how the players in the participating teams perform. Those with superior skills/form – for instance, India in a game of cricket between India vs Zimbabwe – are likely to outperform their opponents. Consequently, wagering money on it also requires skill rather than blind luck or chance.
Secondly, within fantasy betting, the outcome of the game depends on the real-life performance of the comprising athletes since fantasy teams constitute a selection of real players. Therefore, people can put real money on such teams within their leagues on the fantasy sports platforms but can’t bet on the same players directly on a sports betting site without wondering twice if it’s legal or illegal to do so.
In fact, wagering money after a thorough analysis of the match can lead to better profits. Online sports betting sites like Pure Win Sports offer a diverse selection of markets within cricket, football, tennis, etc. to allow players to put their skills to use. Again, these markets are not chance-based but rather, depend on the performance of the individual players and the whole team.
The Way Forward for Sports Betting
It is fair to say that sports betting suffers in India from a negative perception and is perceived as taboo in India. Contrary to popular belief, substantial skill and analysis are needed in order to become profitable here. Betting purely by chance is likely to lead to losses in the long run. That’s why numerous cricket predictions and football predictions sites worldwide offer punters detailed analysis of the matches in question – purely to help them make intelligent, responsible bets.
Hence, regulating and legalising online sports betting in India will be a definite step forward. This will not only address the pitfalls of having this space unregulated – loss in taxation revenues, money laundering, match-fixing, and other illicit activities – but will also give Indian punters a safe space to bet. Developed nations like the Netherlands are already doing it, and there is no reason why India cannot follow suit.
This game involves an element of financial risk and may be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk. The advertisements should not present ‘Online gaming for real money winnings’ as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
This website is strongly in favor of strict underage rules and regulations, meaning that no person under the age of 18 years, or who appears to be under the age of 18, should be engaged in playing a game of ONLINE GAMING FOR REAL MONEY WINNINGS, or suggest that such persons can play these games.
Note : We do not support betting in any way. The given information is guest post only.