#FeatureFriday: Fantasy sports: Skill or luck?

Gambling, wagering, betting are some of the unspoken words, considered to be illegal as per Indian jurisdiction. In reality, there are many fantasy apps available in India that is 100 per cent legal and authentic. So over a few years, a rush of new fantasy sports apps has transformed the Indian gaming ecosystem vastly. As many live in the perception that ‘fantasy sports is gambling’ where many believe it is the ‘game of skills.’ Therefore we are taking an opportunity to analyse whether it is actually gaming or something else! Fantasy cricket is one such genre, where the audience is showing most interest because deep down every Indian (from the age group of 18 to 45 years) is a hardcore cricket fan and thus targeting those audience, developers are leaping with the idea to attract more and more people into the fantasy cricket. Fantasy cricket, it is legal in India, and even BCCI have their own fantasy league called IPL Fantasy League where you can play fantasy cricket. Moreover, as far the developers are concerned fantasy sports are named as the game of skills and it is not related to the betting. What exactly is fantasy sports? A fantasy sport (also known less commonly as rotisserie or roto) is a type of online game where participants create imaginary or virtual teams of real players of a professional sport. The team performance is depending on the statistical performance of those players’ in actual games. The better the strategy used by the participants in building up the virtual teams increases the chances for the participants to win. The performance is converted into points that are compiled and totalled according to a roster selected by each fantasy team’s manager. These point systems can be simple enough to be manually calculated by a “league commissioner” who coordinates and manages the overall league, or points can be compiled and calculated using computers tracking actual results of the professional sport. In fantasy sports, team owners draft, trade and cut (drop) players, analogously to real games. According to Dream11 co-founder and Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) chairman Harsh Jain, “Over the past decade, fantasy sports has been at the helm of evolving the Indian sports fans’ experience by giving them the perfect platform to showcase their sports knowledge and skill. 800 million Indian passive sports viewers now have the opportunity to become active participants in every single match. Fantasy Sports is the start of a revolution that will change the face of the sports industry forever. And this is only the beginning.” Therefore a fantasy sports tournament requires skill to create a team from: • Understanding the algorithmic status (health, fitness) of the player to be part of a dream team • Analysing the past scorecard to select the team members • By doing permutation and combination how the player’s performance will be • Investigating how each player of the team will perform in the match • Creating a team of proportionate players. For, an example in a cricket match, not every player are bowler some are a batsman, all-rounder, fast bowler, wicketkeeper and spinner Are fantasy sports somehow related to gambling? The evolved sports fan, with an adventurous temperament and a natural comfort with technology, has taken no time to adopt and propagate fantasy sports. Each year the popularity of the fantasy sports are leaping sky high. According to  IFSG report “the Fantasy Sports has allowed fans to go from being passive viewers to active users – with an opportunity to use their knowledge, skill and understanding to win in online versions of actual offline games.” The art of creating a dream team can only be possible when a player has specific skill sets. Thus when asked, Playgames24X7 CEO Bhavin Pandiya is fantasy sports a kind of gambling game? (during the launch of new fantasy cricket game My11Circle). He answered “Fantasy Cricket is the game of skill! Where a player requires a certain set of skills to create a team which will help them to win the match. Selecting the team members is what requires certain skill sets, and that is where the strategy of the game lies.” Therefore it sure does not seem like gambling. From where we are at today, fantasy sports looks to be poised to revolutionise sports consumption, by making the experience more immersive, highly engaging and broadening the fan base well beyond the conventional set. It is indeed changing the relationship fans have had with sports over the years, and evolving India into a bigger and more passionate sporting nation. Every gaming requires a skill set among players and fantasy sport is no exception. Moreover deeper engagement in fantasy sports is driving the consumers to spur a greater passion for it in India by the developers and the federation. Hence fantasy sports can be considered as a game of skill and not gambling.