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Gujarat Sports Minister bats for regulation of Fantasy Sports Platforms

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The Gujarat Sports Minister, Harsh Sanghavi, during a roundtable discussion organised by The Dialogue and Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) on the regulation of Indian fantasy sports platforms, underlined the need for progressive policy-driven regulation of the sector. Earlier, the Rajasthan government proposed an enabling regulation for fantasy sports.

Sanghavi was of the view that it is important to assess the socio-economic impact of fantasy sports and the bottlenecks faced by the platforms, to be able to draft a more effective, progressive & inclusive regulation.

In December, the Gujarat State Law Commission (GSLC) submitted a report to the state government recommending bringing online gambling under the existing gambling law and enhancing its scope by increasing the punishment to a 2-year jail.

This roundtable was conducted in the backdrop of the vision set forth by the Hon’ble Prime Minister for the AVGC sector and India’s potential to become a global mobile gaming hub.

While interacting with leading Indian experts, academicians and lawyers on fantasy sports, Sanghavi observed the potential of this sunrise sector as also recognised by NITI Aayog and suggested ways that Gujarat can help foster this industry to avail its full potential as a driver of sports development, economic growth and job creation.

The forward-looking sports policy launched by Gujarat Government recently also identifies the key role of sports technology in the promotion of sports in Gujarat and proposes to set up a start-up incubator for the promotion of technology-based sports start-ups.

Justice Mohit S. Shah, Former Chief Justice, Bombay High Court, was the keynote speaker and he recognised the evolving nature of technology in sports while highlighting the positive growth of fantasy sports.

He pointed out that the different approaches adopted by state governments are creating regulatory hurdles for fantasy sports platforms. To address this, he underlined the need for a uniform regulatory framework to be established by the Centre.

The keynote speech by Justice Mohit S Shah was followed by two roundtable discussions. The participants came from diverse backgrounds including economists, sports journalists, academicians, lawyers etc. The roundtable discussions covered two topics – “Role of Fantasy Sports as a Driver of Economic Growth and Sports Development” and the “Need for a Uniform Regulatory Framework to Safeguard Users’ Interests and Promote Responsible Growth”.

Following were the key takeaways from the session:

●     Considering fantasy sports is a sunrise sector, it is imperative that the Centre shall intervene and a uniform national-level regulatory framework is introduced to minimise the uncertainty that the platforms are facing right now to unlock their full potential.

●     The fantasy sports industry aids in driving investments, innovation and wealth creation. The need of the hour is to create an enabling regulatory environment that will drive greater investment into the sector and increase employment. The industry also supports ancillary industries, including technology solution providers, sports analytics, content streaming, sports travel & merchandising, marketing & creative services etc.

●     The fantasy sports industry contributes significantly in developing the sporting ecosystem in India. Many fantasy sports brands have been actively giving back to the sports ecosystem by supporting grassroots level sports development, adopting athletes etc.

●     The fantasy sports industry shall be regulated by a broad framework of guiding principles encouraging responsible innovation and user protection as suggested by NITI Aayog.

●     While the industry is still at the nascent stages of development, a government-recognised SRO with a panel of experts shall be able to encourage light-touch regulation so as to protect the interests of the consumers and encourage innovation within the industry.

●     There is a need for a united front wherein stakeholders within the gaming industry need to come together to create consensus around the kind of regulation they want and how this should be implemented.

The enablement of the fantasy sports industry is also in line with the government’s vision that India should explore increasing its footprint in the online gaming sector, which has a huge international market and emerges as a global leader.

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