The Telangana government is working on a set of new rules for online and fantasy gaming which will encourage self-regulation and development of the online gaming sector in the state, a senior state government official said on Wednesday.
Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT), Government of Telangana admitted that there are regulatory issues in the world of fantasy sports. He was addressing the 4th edition of fantasy gaming event – GamePlan 2021 organised by self-regulatory industry body Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).
“I know that there are court judgments, there are different orders, and the scenario is a bit muddied and complicated at this point in time. I admit that there has been a push back in Telangana in the past about some forms of games, particularly games of skill, fantasy sports, etc. that have to be encouraged,” he said.
Telangana was the first state to ban online and fantasy gaming alleging that it resorts to gambling.
Ranjan informed that there is a draft regulation that has been prepared which is to be introduced in the state. “I have taken the responsibility to introduce a very simple and industry-friendly piece of regulation in place of what already exists. I have consulted everyone who is involved in this domain, including representatives from the FIFS,” he said.
“I can assure you that we will see a piece of regulation where not only self-regulation, but development will be encouraged. We need to remain patient with what comes up from Telangana. I am very confident that this will be some kind of a role model for all other states also,” he further added.
There have been multiple court rulings that have given legitimacy to online gaming formats including fantasy sports, however, in certain states such as Telangana, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland such online formats are not allowed if they involve any money.
In his address at the event, retired IAS officer and Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) chairman Bimal Jhulka said that fantasy sports is a sunrise sector in India and it has already overtaken the United States (US) with 12 crore users and contributed ₹3,000 crore to the exchequer.
He said that the fantasy sports sector has potential to contribute ₹13,500 crore to the exchequer by means of taxes, create 12,000 additional jobs and attract ₹10,000 crore in foreign direct investments.
Amrit Mathur, FIFS spokesperson, said, “Online fantasy sport (OFS) engages fans with real-life sports such as cricket, volleyball, football, basketball, kabaddi, etc. by providing a platform to create their own virtual teams containing counterparts of real-life players from both the teams participating in an upcoming officially sanctioned match. This is the key distinguisher for fantasy Sports from online gaming.”
He further added, “We want to build a system of continuous and constructive engagement with all the state governments, which is an ongoing dynamic exercise. We’ve been receiving tremendous support from them to be able to execute this.”
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