IPL 2022: BCCI says no to sponsors from real money games, okays fantasy sports brands

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The BCCI, the Indian cricket governing body, has issued sponsorship guidelines for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League. Through the guidelines, BCCI has directed the franchises to not undertake any kind of association or partnership with entities in any way related to betting/ gambling/ real money gaming or the tobacco sector.

While this prohibition seems to be in the usual course, what is noticeable is the exception given to fantasy sports. The document accessed by G2G, says franchises may engage in partnerships with the fantasy sports sector. The fantasy sports sector is a subset of the real money gaming sector. Similar to fantasy sports, real money games like Poker, Rummy are held to be games of skill by the courts. So this prohibition with exception to fantasy sports appears to be discriminatory to the operators in the real gaming sector (other than fantasy sports).

This exception seems to stem from the fact that IPL has seen Dream11 as the title sponsor in 2020. The fantasy sports company continues to be one of the official partners of the IPL. Further, fantasy sports platform My11Circle has inked a pact with the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group-owned Lucknow franchise as the official title sponsor of the team for IPL 2022. The three-year deal will see the My11Circle logo featuring prominently on the jersey of the Lucknow franchise. Play Games24x7 that owns My11Circle operates a multi gaming platform as well.

MPL to be impacted?

The new requirement if implemented is expected to impact real money gaming companies like MPL which are associated with the cash-rich league in some capacity over the past few years. In 2021, MPL has signed a three-year principal sponsorship deal with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). It is not clear how real money games are interpreted by the BCCI given that MPL also offers fantasy sports along with other real money games.

The IPL 2021 clothing and equipment guidelines available on the tournament website, prohibit players and teams from using logos of any entity that is associated with betting or gaming. The gaming here is understood to games of chance which are prohibited in the country. But probably for the first time, IPL has used the term “real money gaming” in its guidelines to the franchises.

We have approached MPL and My11Circle for their comments. This post will be updated once we receive any inputs.