Fantasy sports need more skill than mutual funds: MIT study

A new study conducted by researchers from two reputed universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University, has revealed that playing fantasy sports takes more skill than investing in mutual funds.

Fantasy gaming was given a clean chit by the Supreme Court of India in 2019, deeming it a game of skill rather than chance. It stated that winning at fantasy sports depends on the user’s exercise of superior knowledge, judgment, and attention.

But to decode how skillful a fantasy sports player must be, Professor Vishal Misra from Columbia University and two representatives from MIT took a scientific approach.

“Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) is a rapidly growing industry, especially in India. Time and again the OFS industry has presented a challenge for regulatory bodies across the globe: do they represent gambling or games of skill?” asked Misra, a professor in the department of computer science at Columbia University.

“Our mission was to address this question scientifically and devise a technique that can answer this question rigorously,” he said.

For the study, researchers analysed data from fantasy sports platforms for cricket and basketball from 2013 to 2016 and various mutual funds between 2005 and 2018.

“Our analysis included data sets from fantasy sports as well as a vocation that requires significant analysis and research - Stock Market and Mutual Funds,” he said.

“Based on our comprehensive research with our data set containing millions of events, it is safe to say that picking a team for fantasy sports requires a significant amount of skill and variations,” concluded Misra, who is also an advisor at leading fantasy gaming firm Dream11.

“Skill levels of fantasy sports players exceed that of the mutual fund manager we analysed,” he claimed.

Another study conducted by Anette "Peko" Hosoi, associate dean of engineering at MIT, backs the claims of Misra and his team.

"Some fantasy players may know more about statistics, rules of the game, which players are injured, effects of weather, and a host of other factors that make them better at picking players - that's the skill in fantasy sports," declared Hosoi.