Chennai, November 05, 2020:The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), India’s first & only self-regulatory industry body for Online Fantasy Sports Platforms (OFSP), today shared some very interesting facts about the users and format of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms. FIFS was founded in 2017 and is led by Mr Bimal Julka, as Chairman. MrJulka, in his previous role, served as the Chief Information Commissioner of Govt. of India and oversees the self-governance of Fantasy Sports sector in India.
Industry discussions and research reports such as the IndiaTech whitepaper have established that 80% of the OFSP users prefer to participate in the free-to-play format. Statistics demonstrate that 99.60% of users who participate in a fantasy sports contest have either won or lost less than INR 10,000/- net on an Online Fantasy Sports Platform in their lifetime. The average ticket size of participation in the pay-to-play format is usually as low as INR 35/- (typically the cost of a snack).
Online Fantasy Sports is a digital sports engagement platform that is dependent entirely on real-life sports. It has become one of the primary sources of sports engagement for avid fans and matured users, primarily in the age group of 24 to 40 years. The very fact that it is dependent on actualities, seasonality, and availability of real-time sports matches makes it a non-addictive form of play, as stated in the IndiaTech report. Interestingly, the time spent on the Online Fantasy Sports platforms is only limited to the time taken to draft the fantasy sports team. Participating in fantasy sports platforms also increases sports consumption as a sports fan follows teams, players, match conditions etc. more closely to be able to create a successful fantasy sports team. Several leading sports bodies & leagues have partnered with Fantasy Sports platforms for meaningful fan engagement with the sport. Since the results of fantasy sports contests are purely dependent on the outcome of the real sporting event, there is no simulation and user can only participate in a fantasy sports contest right before the match start time of a live sporting event. This clearly differentiates OFSP as a non-addictive form of pure engagement with real-life sports.
Fantasy Sports provides a level-playing field for every participant and provides open access to all participant’s performance via a Leaderboard that is based on how their fantasy sports team performs. In fact, after round lock, no changes are allowed to be made in the teams and all participants can download & view the teams that have been created by their competitors in a particular contest. The scoring system used for calculating points is clearly illustrated and displayed on the FIFS member platforms before any team is created.
Multiple India High Courts and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India have held OFS as ‘Game of Skill’ and have accorded protection as a legitimate business under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution of India.
The Courts have stated that OFS is a game of skill where a player needs to constantly learn, practice and refine skills to be able to perform in a contest. Furthermore, studies conducted by Professors from reputed Indian & global academic institutions such as IIM Bangalore, MIT and Columbia have statistically proven that Online Fantasy Sports is a game of skill. The MIT & Columbia report further states that Online Fantasy Sports team selection requires higher skill than mutual fund management.
FIFS currently has 35 members, who cumulatively cater to over 99% of India’s Fantasy Sports users. Besides the members, FIFS is the first of its kind industry body which has established an office of the Ombudsman to safeguard and protect the interests of users. The present Ombudsman is Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri (Retd.), Further, FIFS has also strengthened its board by inducting credible personalities including Professor Ratnakar Shetty – Former BCCI Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Amrit Mathur – Former Secretary Sports Authority of India, Mr AN Roy – Retired Director General Police, and Mr John Loffhagen, former Legal Head – IMG.
FIFS has a defined Charter which outlines a framework within which the industry must function. The objective of the body is to ensure that accountability of the platforms and safeguards to both the participants and platforms are adequately defined and not violated.