The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which was passed in the Karnataka Assembly to prohibit online skill games like fantasy sports, rummy and poker in the state, has cast a shadow on online fantasy sports.
Fantasy cricket is expected to be the most affected among all games of skill, as the ban falls right at the start of the biggest T20 cricket season in recent years.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) began on 19th September in Dubai and will continue till 15th October. The ICC T20 World Cup 2021 will begin two days later on October 17 and the final is set to take place on November 14. This schedule of back to back IPL as well as T20 World Cup is a bonanza for cricket fans as well as fantasy cricket players.
According to KPMG, the IPL fantasy league itself is worth $1 billion. With the T20 World Cup thrown in, this two month period (September 19 to November 14, 2021) is the peak of the fantasy cricket season of 2021. The ban will be a huge blow to Fantasy cricket lovers in Karnataka, as the state is among the two top fantasy sports markets in India along with Maharashtra.
India is the world’s largest market for Fantasy Sports by user base. The ban will affect the 50 plus fantasy players in the country including Dream 11, My11Circle, My Team 11, Paytm First Games, MPL and 11 Wickets. Dream 11, with over 110 million users, is the oldest and largest player in fantasy sports in India. In IPL 2020, Dream 11 which is endorsed by Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Shreyas Iyer, achieved a record 5.3 million concurrent users. According to the FIFS-KPMG report, the Indian online Fantasy Sports market is worth Rs 16,500 crore in FY20.
The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the industry body for fantasy sports, in a statement said that the legislation creates confusion and uncertainty for legitimate online fantasy sports businesses. It further said the Bill appears to be misguided since it penalises legitimate businesses by treating them at par with illegal online gambling, betting and wagering platforms.
It further added “It is imperative that the State Govt. recognises that the unintended beneficiaries of this Bill (passed late September 21), would be the grey market platforms and offshore online gambling/betting companies which pose a serious risk to Indian users.”