Fantasy sports have been in question in India for the longest time, even though the rising popularity of the medium is like nothing that has ever been seen before. The fantasy sports industry is now facing pushback from several central and state authorities. A few states in India have already succeeded in banning fantasy sports completely. Supporters believe that it has proven to be an obstacle in an industry that is fast-growing and has massive potential. Authorities have cited adverse financial issues and an increase in suicides from those who engage in fantasy sports.
Many disagree on where fantasy sports belong, whether it should be classified as a game of chance or a game of skill is still unclear in the country. The state of Tamil Nadu has recently made strides to ban the medium as well, but the courts intervened and nothing has been reported regarding the outcome as yet and that Karnataka is thinking of going the same route.
To curb the engagement of fantasy sports, as of December 15, the central government set out strict guidelines for all gaming ads aired on TV. The guidelines were set out and launched by the Advertising Standards Council of India. The decision came after a meeting was held by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, where representatives from broadcasters, advertising and gaming bodies were present.
The industry has been booming in India with 10 operators in 2016, representing 50 lakh users, to 150 operators, representing 10 crore users, bringing us to the present day. The industry was in the spotlight recently when one of the leading operators, Dream11, gained the title sponsorship for the Indian Premier League (IPL). An increase of 2 crore users was seen in the past 3 months for Paytm First Games, Dream11’s top rival.
Even though several states have put in a concerted effort to ban fantasy sports, the industry has ignored its obstacles and continued to grow. Even demographics have changed in the past few months with the user base expanding from those aged between 18-35 to 18-55. Celebrities in the country have also gone on to show their support for the industry and its operators by becoming ambassadors and allowing the companies to see even more reach and growth. This has led to popularity in fantasy sports even reaching regions outside of metropolitan areas.