Home / News / India /  Niti Aayog recommends single self-regulatory body for Online Fantasy Sports

The Government of India’s policy think-tank, Niti Aayog, has recommended the setting up of a single self-regulatory body for online fantasy sports (OFS) in India. The think tank made the recommendation through a draft report titled “Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India", saying the body should be recognized by the government.

The report comes as big support for online fantasy sports platforms which have been embroiled in battles over their legality in various states. “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," the report says.

It also noted that the fantasy sports industry in the United States (US) was the largest in the works, till the Indian industry overtook it “recently". “Such a self-regulatory body should be a single-purpose fantasy sports industry body and have membership of online fantasy sports platforms (OFSPs) operators," the report said.

It also noted that regulation for OFS platforms varies across states in the country, which results in “inconsistent experience" and “risk of forum/jurisdiction shopping". “This may even deprive sports fans in some states of their right to engage actively on these OFSPs," the report said.

“Formal recognition of the fantasy sports industry and providing for principle-led governance would enable Indian OFSP operators to focus on innovation and achieve scale and expand their operations in a clear and principle-based regulatory environment," the report said.

While online fantasy sports in India have drawn over Rs. 1500 crore in investments from foreign investors over the past few years, it’s legality is often called into question still. Some states, like Assam, Orissa and Telangana, have made fantasy sports illegal within their borders, while, Tamil Nadu recently passed an ordinance that bans “online gaming" in the state, but doesn’t explicitly mention fantasy sports platforms.

On the other hand, Nagaland has explicitly recognized fantasy sports as games of skill, while Sikkim has a special license that real money gaming platforms can acquire to function in the state. Similarly, the Punjab & Haryana and Rajasthan High Courts have specifically passed rulings that recognize fantasy sports as games of skill, though none of these legally qualify as a countrywide law and the Supreme Court is yet to give its opinion on the matter.

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