Fantasy leagues – the in thing right now. Is it just a game or something more, something like gambling? Still gambling, but not quite.
Running, or being in charge of a public gambling house was officially banned in certain Indian territories in 1867 with varying states having their own laws on lotteries and casinos. Though these laws have been around for a while now, their impact on the ground is questionable because you and I both know that they did not stop gambling or gambling houses. Now, just like the rest of us, it turns out the gambling industry isn’t immune to the charms of technology as well.
‘Fantasy Sports’ – that’s the new term. You pick a sport, go online, build a team with the players of your choice and you earn points based on the real-life performance of those players. Sounds harmless enough… until you introduce money to it. The absolute genius here is that everyone involved is betting on a match – without ever betting on an actual match.
And this is not the first, per se. Online betting has been around for a while now. We’ve all seen those ads – “Play online teen patti and become a millionaire, turn your life around today!”. While getting rid of these games was comparatively easy for the courts because they are online gambling in the most literal sense. But fantasy sports apps escape out on technicalities. Legally speaking, ‘Gambling’ is anything where money is risked on chance and since the act of building teams requires an understanding of performance statistics (and whatnot), it’s an act of skill and this exempts these apps from any gambling laws whatsoever. Dream11, Myteam11, Fantasy Power 11, 11 Wickets fantasy, etc. are, at their very core, just the same old game of betting but repackaged.
These apps are designed to get you hooked the first time you log on and then, to keep you there. Anyone who downloads the app is already halfway there and the first few free games just finish the job. And going from free contests to paid ones is a slippery slope – ‘some guy in the news apparently won millions so let’s do it’. Another claim that I’ve seen floating online is that while these apps claim to pit you against other participants, more than half the time, you end up playing against a computer – which considerably lowers the chances of winning. But people do win money, a thousand bucks, two thousand… So, they keep coming back, especially because sports seem like a safe enough bet. But it’s impossible to win every time and it’s even harder to back out because the next round always seems like the big one. And the fee that the companies charge is specifically designed to feed into these impulses.
The next thing you know, you have an addiction – an addiction to picking teams, judging statistics, mapping strategies, the skill of it all. And on the side, an addiction to risking money to win back more money. Sounds a bit familiar to me.
Feature Image Source: The Daily Guardian
Naina Priyadarshi Mishra