The Growth of Fantasy Sports Betting in India
The Indian online sports betting market has grown significantly in recent years, and is expected to continue in this pattern, with an estimated 17.4 million users projected by 2027.
Fantasy sports betting was a significant factor in this growth and has avoided the same strict restrictions that other betting markets faced. This was due to a loophole that saw fantasy sports betting as a game of skill rather than chance.
Fantasy sports betting requires players to use strategies, have strong knowledge of sports, and display expertise in order to succeed. Because of this, fantasy sports are considered a legitimate business and fall outside the 1867 Public Gambling Act.
This differs from the UK where fantasy sports betting falls under the 2005 Gambling Act. Sports betting and fantasy betting are more accessible in the UK than India thanks to a selection of regulated online and in-person betting operators; a list of the top sites in the UK offer plenty of markets on both real and fantasy sports markets.
The U.S. also offers a range of popular sports fantasy options with American Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Ice Hockey markets all proving popular. American fantasy sports betting differs from regular sports betting; it is available in 45 states compared to the 37 that allow regulated sportsbooks. This positions some states similar to India in that sports betting isn’t fully legal.
Other countries that allow fantasy sports betting include Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Mexico. These countries have their own regulations that determine which sports can be wagered on, so it’s clear that fantasy sports poses different regulatory challenges around the world, not just in India.
Fantasy sports players must select a line-up of athletes by drafting and trading throughout the season. Fantasy cricket is the most popular sport in India, accounting for 85% of the country’s fantasy sports revenue. Football is the second most popular and makes up 6.32%.
Other popular fantasy sports in India include baseball, basketball, and Kabaddi. Each of these fantasy sports options is available to play for fun or cash prizes.
However, the success of fantasy sports betting could have a negative impact on the industry if the proposed changes go ahead. Plans from the Indian authorities to implement new online gaming taxes have been met with dismay by operators who fear it could kill the industry.
Present rules include an 18% tax on commissions taken on stakes. New changes could see a commission and a 28% tax on stakes. These changes are due to take place in October and will be reviewed after six months.
Fears that smaller operators will go out of business could narrow the market and limit customer choice if the plans go ahead.
This will be a source of frustration to the millions of Indian gamblers who enjoy the market. Fantasy sports offers a straightforward way for bettors to put their knowledge to the test by creating an account and selecting whether they want to play free games or paid contests.
Free contests will not be affected and these are often used as a way for players to hone their skills before placing money on their performance.
It is not just fantasy sports betting that will be affected by these changes. All online gambling sites that include casinos, horse racing, and sportsbooks will be subject to the new tax.
Objections have been placed with online gaming companies requesting a more reasonable 18% tax instead. When the news broke in July, share prices with some of the top online gaming operators plummeted before regaining some level of normality.
This served as a warning of what could happen if this change went ahead as planned. Online operators will hope that the Indian authorities see sense and agree to a smaller percentage of a thriving industry ahead of a larger one that could be negatively impacted.