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With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deciding to hold the 14th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) before empty stands, at least in the initial phase of the T20 league, online fantasy gaming platforms could witness high interest from cricket fans.

Gaming platforms are preparing to engage more users during the two months, with new in-app features, sign-up bonus, virtual meet-and-greet sessions with cricketers, and contests. Mobile Premier League (MPL), which claims to have over 70 million users in India, is looking to add another 30 million by the end of IPL. During IPL 2020 its daily app installations had gone up by 100% and fantasy gamers grew by 7 times, it said.

“We are prepared to handle an even higher user influx this time. We are coming up with new tournament formats for all games on MPL and have exciting cash offers on referral," Abhishek Madhavan, senior vice president, growth and marketing, MPL, said.

MPL is also offering sign-up bonuses. “There is a special product-level feature, which we will announce soon. We have some exciting celeb meet-and-greets planned for our gamers and fantasy users as well as in-app engagement," Madhavan said.

Baazi Games-owned fantasy cricket portal BalleBaazi.com said it has introduced a new format, “Second Innings Fantasy", which will allow players to create teams till the second innings starts. “Now users will get two chances to win in the same match. We have also added a chat section in the private league where users will now be able discuss the game with friends and family," Saurabh Chopra, chief executive, BalleBaazi.com, said. It seeks to add 3 million new users to its existing 5.5 million this IPL season and to expand social media presence by 60-70%.

Fantasy gaming platform Blitzpools (formerly Liverpools Pvt. Ltd) increased its price pools for players for the IPL season, after an offerings upgrade. “To ensure consistent fan enga-gement, we are starting a daily fan zone YouTube channel that will do in-depth analysis of the IPL...As part of our customer retention programme, we have a coin-based system which will gratify players loyal to the programme and they can redeem that for cash, vouchers, merchandize or virtual meet-and-greet," said Gaurav Assomull, founder, Blitzpools.

“Online gaming companies including fantasy sports platforms are eagerly looking forward to leveraging IPL 2021 while anticipating a healthy double-digit growth. It is estimated that about 50 million gamers were engaged on fantasy platforms during IPL 2020 generating a turnover of approximately 20,000 million," said Roland Landers, CEO, The All India Gaming Federation.

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