The Government of India constantly endeavours to leverage technology and innovation towards maximizing country's potential & economic growth. With a targeted, outcome-based approach and government's support, emerging technologies are already causing largescale shift across several sectors driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation. One such sector that has witnessed noticeable growth in recent years is Fantasy Sports.
In a recent market report1, it was noted that the number of users participating in online fantasy sports in India has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 212%, from 2 million users in June 2016 to 90 million users in December 2019. Further, the report estimates that the fantasy sports industry has the potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment of more than INR 10,000 crore over the next few years as well as generate 1.5 billion online transactions by 2023. A rapidly surging demand, a large market of sports fans and a complementing pool of software development talent makes India the ideal candidate to become a global hub for this fast-growing industry.
Recognizing this opportunity and in sync with NITI Aayog's mandate to identify potential of disruption in changing industrial landscape, a position paper has been prepared to address Fantasy Sports market. The motivation behind this paper, put together by the Frontier Technology Vertical at NITI Aayog, is to identify the landscape and potential for India to be the global leader in the Fantasy Sports sector. The discussion paper, incorporating a position paper and draft guiding principles, has been prepared after deliberations with experts from industry as well as the legal fraternity.
Pursuant to incorporation of the feedback received, we now seek comments on the draft guiding principles, from the larger stakeholder community on or before 18th January 2021, on email at email@example.com.
The content of the draft document is solely for the purposes of discussion with stakeholders on the proposed subject and does not necessarily reflect the views of NITI Aayog. The document was prepared based on extensive stakeholder consultations. The information contained herein is neither exhaustive nor final and is subject to change.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Desh Gaurav Sekhri (Officer on Special Duty, NITI Aayog) in putting together this discussion paper for stakeholder review.
Online Fantasy Sports Platforms
The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, in his MannKiBaat address aired on August 30, 2020, recognised the vast potential of the Indian gaming industry, applauding the contributions of Indian innovators and application developers. The recent AatmaNirbhar App Challenge also recognised gaming as a category in which development of indigenous applications are to be encouraged and celebrated.
Leading the gaming industry's growth within India are Online Fantasy Sports Platforms (OFSPs) that offer fantasy sports contests. With a large market of Indian sports fans and availability of digital infrastructure and engineering talent in India, the OFSP industry can be an engine for growth, employment and innovation in fantasy sports across the world, and also become a global hub for fantasy sports.
Until being overtaken by India recently, the United States of America (US) had the largest online fantasy sports market by user base, with industry reports attesting to daily fantasy sports contests in the US generating USD 2.91 billion in revenue and valuing the market at USD 7.22 billion as of 2017.
KPMG India in its report: The Business of Fantasy Sports (July 2020), noted that the number of users participating in online fantasy sports in India has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 212%, increasing to 90 million users in December 2019, from 2 million users in June 2016. The fantasy sports industry is estimated to have the potential to generate approximately 1.5 billion transactions by 2023 as well as the potential to attract FDI of more than INR 10,000 crore over the next few years.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers India's report has noted that the fantasy sports industry has the potential to generate an additional 5000+ direct and 7000+ indirect jobs in the next 2-3 years. It also estimates that the fantasy sports industry has the potential to contribute GST revenue of INR 3,000 crore to INR 3,500 crore over the next 5 years, with income tax on winnings and corporate tax paid by OFSP operators expected to contribute between INR 7,000 crore to INR 10,000 crore over the next 5 years.
While OFSPs operate through online media on a pan-India basis, their regulation proceeds under varied State-wise regulatory regimes. This could impact fantasy sports users' interests of transparency, OFSP operator integrity, and fairness may vary from state-to-state. There are instances also of unscrupulous operators who lure users with games of questionable legality in the guise of fantasy sports.
NITI Aayog has initiated this discussion to examine the fantasy sports industry structure and consider evolving guiding principles that can help the industry to grow by adhering to guidelines which are consistent and based on well-recognised principles.
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1 The Business of Fantasy Sports (July 2020), KPMG India
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