Niti Aayog recommends self-regulatory body for fantasy sports industry

‘Such self-regulatory body should be a single-purpose fantasy sports industry body and have membership of online fantasy sports platforms (OFSPs) operators’ the Aayog said in a draft report.

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Niti Aayog, government’s think tank, has recommended setting up a self-regulatory organisation for the online fantasy sports industry and also suggested restricting online fantasy games to users of 18 years and above.

The Aayong, in a draft report titled “Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-Level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India”, said that there is a public interest in the fantasy sports industry receiving government recognition as an industry and having its own identity.

A single self-regulatory organisation for the fantasy sports industry should be recognised by the government, it added.

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“Such 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, according to news agency PTI.

“Pay-to-play formats of fantasy sports contests should not be offered by an OFSP operator to users who are less than 18 years old,” the Aayog said, adding that all necessary safeguards to protect minors must be instituted.

The governance of the self regulatory organisation should be undertaken by an independent oversight board comprising of reputed persons with experience in governance, law and administration, who may be elected or appointed by members of the self-regulatory organisation for fixed terms, according to the draft report.

The self-regulatory organisation should establish an independent grievance redressal mechanism to handle consumer/user complaints against OFSPs as well as any disputes that arise between or relating to OFSPs, it added.

As per the draft guidelines, the extant legal ambiguity and differential treatment faced by fantasy sports games across the Indian states must be addressed through the creation of a uniform national-level safe-harbour for fantasy sports games.

“This will enable the implementation of a single national policy on fantasy sports and bring clarity to regulators, operators and consumers alike,” it said.

In a recent market report, KPMG had noted that the number of users participating in online fantasy sports in India has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 212%, from 2 million users in June 2016 to 90 million users in December 2019.

Meanwhile, last week, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to all private satellite TV channels stating that no advertisement should present online gaming for real money winnings as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
According to the advisory, private television channels will have to follow the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on November 24, which will come into effect from December 15.

“All broadcasters are advised that the guidelines issued by ASCI are complied with and advertisements broadcast on television adhere to the guidelines of the ASCI. It may also be ensured that advertisements do not promote any activity which is prohibited by statute or law,” the advisory said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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