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Last Updated : Mar 02, 2019 09:00 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Indians love fantasy sports and the increasing number of users is a proof of it

Cricket is the most sought after sports in the fantasy sports leagues space.

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam

Why just watch a sport when you can be a part of it and even earn money. That is what 27-year-old Ramesh Ratul did when he competed with 7,851 teams online for the Big Bash Final, an Australian cricket league. He bagged the Mega League Title and won a cash prize of Rs 25,000.

Like Ratul there are many who are engaged in fantasy sports leagues as they offer more engagement, more excitement and handsome rewards, say online gamers.

Fantasy sports leagues in India are witnessing increasing traction as the number of users grew from 0.2 crore in 2016 to 2 crore in 2018. In 2019, the number has gone up to 5 crore, according to Parth Sharma, General Manager, strategic management, Ballebaazi.com.

He said that in the fantasy sports segment companies have seen a month-on-month growth of 15-20 percent. "The whole fantasy group is having more than 5 crore individuals who are using fantasy sport platforms and I see that growing 2x rate. It will be 10 crore very soon. It will happen within 2019."

These numbers are enough to say that fantasy gaming has emerged as a thriving platform for the sports-crazy audience. And cricket is the most sought after sports in this space.

"Currently cricket is contributing more than 90 percent in this space most of the websites are also providing only cricket as their fantasy gaming option," Sharma said.

He however added that "kabaddi is growing very rapidly then there is football, basketball, badminton and tennis."

But how do these leagues work?

Throwing more light on what fantasy sport is Sharma said, “With fantasy sports especially cricket what you can do is before the game starts you can select a set of 11 players which you like and you think will perform well. You can pick up a selector and then watch the game. So while watching the game you will be engaged with the game and this is because you have your own stakes involved in it and you can compete with your friends and win money.”

Along with different sports categories, the league sizes also vary.

"There are mega leagues in which you can win up to Rs 4 lakh then there are champion and grinder leagues in which you are against 300 to 400 gamers and you can win thousands. You can also deposit Rs 39 and win Rs 20-30 lakh. These are mega amounts that are being distributed on a daily basis. There is a lower level league also in which you need Rupee one or two to enter and win Rs 500-Rs 1,000," said Sharma.

These leagues go live on online gaming platforms 48 hours before the actual game starts.

There are as many as 70 operators in fantasy gaming industry in India and according to Sharma gamers can play on multiple portals as these sports do not require much time unlike Rummy or Poker.

"There is a difference between other online games like Poker and Rummy happening in India. For these games you have to spend 4-5 hours to make hefty money but here you can spend 5 mins in making a team, just do your research and background," said Sharma.

Sports gaming is evolving thanks to "cheap mobile phone availability". "Internet connectivity is one of the major reasons these games are growing. Users from a small village, if they understands the game, can make money and be part of the fantasy sports," said Sharma.

He also pointed out that demonetisation gave the fantasy sports industry a good boost “because now people have learned to pay online, to be on the internet and how to use it for these purposes.”

But there is one other factor that is boosting the growth and that is clarity around the legality of the format.

"So, all the states have distinguished between skill based game and chance based game. And fantasy sports have been defined as a game of skill by almost all the states barring Telangana, Orissa and Assam. Other states consider fantasy sport platforms legal," explained Sharma.

A game of skill is when a gamer wins or loses due to his/her judgement or skill and not because of chance.

For fantasy sports there is no central law and it comes under state law jurisdiction.

Indian Premier League (IPL) is around the corner which will be followed by the World Cup and it looks like online gamers will be occupied for long.

Anyway, Sharma says that there are enough leagues to keep the gamers busy. "There are two-three games on an average every day."

 
First Published on Mar 2, 2019 09:00 am

tags #Sports

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