68% of citizens want Government to lay down guidelines for online fantasy sports: Survey

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on March 22, 2021

Want celebrity endorsers to talk about the risk of loss in ads

Online Fantasy Sports have been banned in six States as it is another form of betting and gambling which could lead to dangerous consequences players such as getting caught in a debt trap or even suicide.

As per a LocalCircles survey of 21,000 citizens in 309 districts across metropolises, small cities, towns and rural areas, 68 per cent want the government to create guidelines or code of regulation for online fantasy sports platforms. While 49 per cent support self-regulation, 34 per cent want government to be the regulator too. Approximately 12 per cent of citizens are either playing online fantasy sports or have someone in the family playing it and believe that it qualifies as ‘skill gaming’ while 67 per cent classify it as gambling.

NITI Aayog recently published a white paper emphasising the need to formulate a principle-based policy that guides the industry and promotes their growth and innovation while securing consumer interest.

While the courts have ruled majorly in favour of fantasy sports platforms and skill gaming; Assam, Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh have banned fantasy sports. The Andhra Pradesh Government passed an ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, listing skill gaming as gambling and imposing stringent punishment to those charged with gambling — 6 months of imprisonment and 24 months of jail for repeat conviction.

Fantasy sports

In Fantasy Cricket, each user can form a team of 11 real players. Stipulated credits are to be used and each real player is allotted a credit. The winning of the user is based on the performance of real players in one’s team during a particular game.

Sports channels on television and other mediums are abuzz with advertisements promoting online fantasy games featuring sports celebrities, especially during a cricket match. . When asked by LocalCircles if online fantasy sports platforms should be permitted to advertise in television/print/digital media, 54 per cent said they should not be permitted to advertise at all, 25 per cent said they should be permitted only with appropriate visible and audible warnings. Interestingly, 57 per cent of the citizens want advertising to be made more responsible by celebrity endorsers of the platforms talking about the risk of loss in the ads.

Citizens via LocalCircles had flagged the issue in August 2020 to the Department of Consumer Affairs which handles ‘Misleading Advertisement’ issues and post that, it has been observed that warning disclaimers are appearing in some of the Online Fantasy Sports advertisements. For instance, High Courts of Kerala and Madras earlier issued notices to popular Indian cricketers for allegedly promoting and endorsing online gambling by using their popularity amongst citizens to promote such a game.

Published on March 23, 2021

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