Monday, June 27, 2022
 
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FIFS Lost Three Big Members. Isn’t it Time for a Change?

MPL, My11Circle and MyTeam11 are no Longer with FIFS
Mobile Premier League (MPL), My11Circle and MyTeam11 were until recently platinum members of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), each paying annual fees to the amount of ₹50 lakh, but they are no longer part of the self-regulatory industry body. Reportedly, Jaipur-based MyTeam11 was the first to leave, and MPL and My11Circle chose not to renew their annual membership with the organization.


FIFS was established by India’s first gaming unicorn Dream11 in 2017 with the mission to be the country’s sole self-regulatory body dedicated to fantasy sports. Quotes from the organization’s charter, issued to set out “minimum standards and expectations” for operators of online fantasy sports platforms (OFSPs), have found their place in the reasoning of a High Court judgment that was in favor of the sector.


According to media information, the three former platinum members had serious disagreements with the management of FIFS over how they should conduct their own businesses.

MPL, My11Circle and MyTeam11 all have ventures outside the realm of online fantasy sports and participate in other real money gaming federations, while FIFS founder Dream11 holds 70 percent of the Indian fantasy sports market.

"No one wants to get bullied in a level-playing field. Guidelines can't be lopsided and favoring one player," said an anonymous knowledgeable source. As per unconfirmed reports, FIFS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anwar Shirpurwala has resigned.
Conflict of Interest
The development that left FIFS drained of blood was not a surprise to many, as there were conflicts of interest along quite a few lines. Three of the major members were spending substantial amounts of cash to promote themselves during the hottest sports season in the country - the Indian Premier League.
MPL Sports Division is the official kit sponsor of the Indian Cricket Team, and in 2020 MPL became the principal sponsors of the Kolkata Knight Riders, until they were replaced by esports and real money gaming platform Winzo for the IPL 2022 season.

My11Circle sponsors the new IPL franchise Lucknow Super Giants, while FIFS founder Dream11 locked in the title sponsorship rights of the IPL itself for 2020 replacing Chinese phone producer Vivo after the military clashes in Galwan valley.
The Indian Paradox

The country’s apex governing body for cricket - the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) paradoxically forbids real money games while permitting online fantasy sports platforms whose games are played for prizes to sponsor IPL teams. Similarly, sports betting is prohibited in most of India, while estimates show that the actual size of the country’s illegal gambling market exceeds $100 billion with most of it generated by sports betting.

Reportedly, this market is growing at an annual rate of 7 percent, and betting on cricket accounts for a massive 80 percent of all sports wagering in the country.


Time for a Change
The recent events that diminished the weight of the fantasy sports self-regulatory body is just another signal that India and the BCCI should reconsider their stance on sports and IPL betting in particular. Instead of insisting on a moralistically based prohibition that doesn’t really work, moving on to a national-wide regulation over the country’s enormous sportsbook market would have a positive impact across all stakeholders and the public.


Even though it is not realistic to expect a complete elimination of the black market, a comprehensive national regulation framework over sport bets would channel a substantial chunk of the illegal market away from criminal hands and into legitimate, traceable and taxable payment modes.

The traceability of betting activity will be a powerful tool to fight down match-fixing, thus raising the integrity of sports in India to a whole new level. The generated “clean” money flows and the tax revenues derived from them can be used for socially significant causes including improving sports infrastructure around the country and boosting the inflow of young talent.


An important aspect of contemporary betting regulation, which the black market lacks completely, is the level of customer protection achieved by modern responsible gaming (RG) solutions. The examples of many developed economies around the world, like Sweden, Denmark and the UK, who have chosen to regulate, show that legislative RG requirements can effectively shield users from problem gaming and various other risks associated with gambling and betting.

Allowing big international and homegrown sports betting brands to participate in India's sports life can bring substantial raise in sport sponsoring budgets and flawless funding of non-profit organizations like FIFS aimed to devise and implement higher ethical standards for the industry.

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