A registered not-for-profit trade body, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), was officially launched with 13 Indian Fantasy Sports operators attending its inaugural workshop on the ‘Impact of GST & Taxation for Fantasy Sports’ in Mumbai on 24th October, 2017.
FIFS is a self-regulatory body formed to protect the interests of all Indian users by creating regulations for fantasy sports operators in India and aims to promote fantasy sports as a game of skill that is exempt from the anti-gambling legislations. Building on the Punjab and Haryana High Courts’ approval of the fantasy sports format where users use their sports knowledge and skill to pick the same number of players in their fantasy sports team that an actual selector will pick in a starting lineup for a real-life match, FIFS has created a Charter that lays down the legal principles & framework of operating a Fantasy Sports business in India. This charter is available on FIFS’ official website.
Some of the salient features of the FIFS charter that all operators have to adhere to are given below:
- Provide services only to users aged 18 and above
- Follow the Fantasy Sports format approved by the Indian Courts, wherein users pick the same number of players in their fantasy team as are present in the starting line-up of one team in the real sports match, eg. 5 in kabaddi/basketball, 11 in cricket/football, etc.
- Ensure that the duration of each contest offered is a minimum of 1 complete real-life sports match
- Operate with complete transparency while listing contests, declaring winners, updating their point mechanism and other terms & conditions, etc.
- Ensure user funds are kept separate and not utilised for running business operations
The Federation is managed by Genesis Burson Marsteller (GBM), a leading public advocacy firm, and the inaugural workshop was led by Vinay Jha, ex-IAS officer and Principal Advisor, Public Affairs at GBM. FIFS also invited Utkarsh Sanghvi, Partner-Tax & Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young, to take the attendees through the impact of GST on the fantasy sports industry.
Commenting on the launch, Vinay Jha said, “The workshop was a great opportunity to meet the leading Fantasy Sports operators of India. A self-regulatory body supported by its members is the strategic way forward to address the issues and opportunities of the Fantasy Sports industry in an efficient manner.”
Commenting on the launch of the federation, Harsh Jain, CEO of Dream11 and the founding member of FIFS, said, “We look forward to working with all the Indian fantasy sports operators in this exponentially growing industry to protect all Indian user’s interests via a self-regulatory framework.”