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Globally, fantasy gaming is a $200bn market, with India's growing online gaming industry poised to hit $1.1bn by 2021 as per a recent Google-KPMG report. The country has 400-plus active start-ups that have attracted close to $450m of investment between 2014 and 2020. The penetration of India's digital infrastructure along with the favourable verdict from the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to the highly competitive market.

Now the Indian government is mulling over the issuing of licenses to fantasy sports operators once their technical and financial feasibility is assessed. This will consider the security of players’ money, which is mandated through the FIFS charter that directs depositing players’ money in an Escrow account with the bank. As with any legalisation, it will cut down the illegal activities as well as generate revenue for the government for investment in social sectors, and not just the sports sector. The revenue earned from online betting can be put to good use in boosting infrastructure for other sports as well as tourism.

Also, the authorities have started to realise that online fantasy sports gaming (OFSG) is a skill-based online sports gaming where sports fans can create their team made up of real-life players from upcoming matches encompassing popular sports like cricket, football, basketball, kabaddi and others. These virtual teams score points based on the actual stats-based performance of said players while the match is going on in real life and is used to determine the winners accordingly.

Following India’s ban on Chinese apps, including the popular PUBG, it has given a lifeline to domestic game developers, who have to now step up and cash in on the opportunity. On top of that, the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Innovate Challenge by MeitY and NITI Aayog is poised to advance the quality of gaming apps in the market, boosting the Indian mobile gaming market as well as India's sports economy, which is being eyed by the government as a prime revenue-earner and as such, will be striving to create the proper market conditions and policy framework so as to attract investors.

With PM Narendra Modi stating his desire to see India become a ‘toy hub’ and boost the handicrafts toy industry in the rural areas, the same applies now for urban areas with home-grown fantasy sports apps. It's truly a golden opportunity and if viewed and executed comprehensively, it will help in create a healthy ecosystem for sports in India.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sanjay Kanojia

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