NITI Aayog suggests to set up a self-regulatory body for online fantasy sports

Shweta Tambade

NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s policy think-tank, has suggested the establishment of a single self-regulatory body for Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) in India.

The think tank proposed a draft report titled “Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India”, saying the body should be recognised by the government.

The report comes as a big backing for online fantasy sports platforms (OFSP) that have been involved in battles over their legality in various states.

The report stated:

“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.”

It also indicated that the fantasy sports industry in the United States (US) was the largest across the globe until the Indian industry outplayed it “recently.”

The NITI Aayog report said, “Such a self-regulatory body should be a single-purpose fantasy sports industry body and have a membership of online fantasy sports platforms (OFSPs) operators.”

The supervision for OFS platforms is different across states in the country, which results in “inconsistent experience” and “risk of forum/jurisdiction shopping.”

It further mentioned, “This may even deprive sports fans in some states of their right to engage actively on these OFSPs.”

“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.

The legality of online fantasy sports is often questioned though they have drawn over Rs. 1500 crore in investments from foreign investors over the past few years in India.

States like Tamil Nadu, Assam, Orissa, and Telangana, have considered fantasy sports illegal within their borders.

Andhra Pradesh had recently passed Gaming Amendment Bill to ban online games.

On the other hand, Nagaland has distinctly identified fantasy sports as skillful, and Sikkim has licensed real money gaming platforms to function in the state.

Similarly, the Punjab & Haryana High Court, as well as the Rajasthan High Court, has explicitly passed rulings that recognize fantasy sports as games of skill.

But none of them legally qualify as a countrywide law as the Supreme Court is yet to give its judgement on the matter.

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