Fantasy sports industry pundits welcome NITI Aayog’s guidelines

Experts from the fantasy sports industry welcomed the new guidelines provided by the government think tankNITI Aayog.

"This endeavour by NITI Aayog is a welcome step in the direction of moving towards regulatory clarity for the online fantasy sports sector,” said Rameesh Kailasam, CEO of Indiatech, speaking at an online session organised by his firm.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), which is the self-regulatory body of the industry, shed light on the contribution of fantasy sports towards technological advancement and also embraced the steps taken by NITI Aayog.

 “The emergence of multiple sports and leagues coupled with rapid improvement in digital infrastructure is witnessing many sports tech innovations,” explained Bimal Julka, Chairman, FIFS.

India has become the largest fantasy sports industry in the world, surpassing the US. These guidelines can help in achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” he added.

Although the online fantasy sports (OFS) industry of India has witnessed a sharp rise in users and is also backed by a number of deep-pocketed investors, it continues to be entangled in legal battles in different states of the country due to unclear laws, which in-turn hamper its growth.

“With the absence of specific regulation, lack of policy clarity and discretionary interpretations by various state-wise regulatory regimes, the online fantasy sports sector despite being acknowledged as a sunrise sector that engages with sports fans and enthusiasts suffers being misunderstood with many other forms of online games that are different,” said Rameesh Kailasam.

NITI Aayog has suggested setting up cost-effective grievance redressal mechanisms that can safeguard the rights of both consumers and operators and not repeatedly expose compliant OFS platform operators to legality challenges that come from consumer disputes reaching the courts.

“Providing a distinct identity to fantasy sports will go a long way in gaining the consumers' trust and ensuring that all OFS platforms function responsibly and remain compliant with the prescribed format,” reckoned Shwetasree Majumdar, Managing Partner, Fidus Law Chambers.

“I believe, it is time that we see a necessary shift away from viewing fantasy sports as an exception to betting and gambling, to eliminate the extant ambiguity that the operators encounter at the state level.”