There are dozens of fantasy sports operators currently doing business in India and thanks to an unprecedented level of growth following huge investment, this industry has ballooned in the last couple years, becoming one of the biggest in the tech and sports sectors.
But just what is behind this growth and what does it mean for the economy?
A Viable Alternative
One of the main driving forces of the fantasy sports industry is the fact that they provide an alternative to sports betting, which is illegal. Fantasy sports programs let players create a team of players from their favourite sport and leagues and those teams then compete against others, winning points every time their chosen players perform well.
There is a strong element of skill involved and it’s this that ensures daily fantasy sports games remain legal even though sports betting is not.
It’s a similar story in the United Staes, where brands like FanDuel and DraftKings have capitalised on strict gambling laws to create multi-billion dollar empires. In India Dream11 have mirrored the success of these big brands and have a valuation of more than $1 billion thanks to a recent round of funding and some major investment from international companies.
A Vast Market
There are over 300 million people in the United States and once you narrow this down to adults of legal playing age, and then to sports fans residing in states where fantasy sports are legal, you have a player base in the millions spread across all fantasy sports providers.
In India the population is over 1.2 billion and is just as sports mad, albeit with more of a focus on cricket than football and basketball. Dream11 is said to have a user base of more than 50 million, numbers that would make even FanDuel envious, and they are growing all of the time.
If you include other providers in the mix then the total number of fantasy sports players is over 100 million. Many of these play for free, but on any given game it is estimated that between 10% and 25% pay a subscription. That’s a minimum of 10 million people all paying a set fee every month and pumping hundreds of millions into these companies.
A Helping Hand for the Tech Sector
The rise of fantasy sports is not only helping the sport and gambling industries in India, potential leading to the legalisation of Indian betting sites and to the billions of revenue that such laws could bring, but it is also providing a boost to the tech sector.
This sector is already one of the biggest in India and contributes significantly to the GDP, but with so much money available and such an emphasis placed on innovation and development, these companies are using their success to fund the next generation of tech innovators and to create software that is coveted by companies across the Americas and Europe.
A Staggering Sum
The total value of the fantasy sports industry in India is predicted to top $5 billion by 2021, and this doesn’t include the potential knock-on effects that it could have for employment and for the tech, sports and gambling industries. To put that into perspective, the fantasy sports industry in India will be worth twice the amount that India receives in economic aid and just under the entire value of the Indian Premier League.
Needless to say, this industry is good news not just for sport fans, but for everyone who benefits from the growth of the Indian economy.