Dream11 is an India-based Indian fantasy sports platform that enables users to play fantasy cricket, kabaddi, hockey, football, and basketball. It became the first Indian gaming firm to join the ‘Unicorn Club’ in April 2019.
It was co-founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. In 2012, they welcomed cricket fans to freemium fantasy sports in India. The company announced 1 million registered users in 2014, rising to 2 million in 2016 and 45 million users in 2018.
Although it has faced some legal sports betting issues, it’s still popular in India. Read on to learn more about the Dream11 app and how it works.
It’s an online gaming platform where players create a virtual team of real-life players and win points based upon real matches in which their players play.
The person who earns the most points in the competitions they have joined achieves first place on the leaderboard. Dream11 provides an opportunity for free competitions and paid competitions.
To enter a contest, a player must pay a fee – in these contests you can earn real money. To play in a Dream11 game, a user must be at least 18 years old and must use their PAN to verify their profile.
Pay to Play
The first edition of Dream11 was modeled on FPL in 2008 – a season-long, free-to-play fantasy cricket game in a graphical format with a business model powered by advertising.
The business worked for nearly four years with this model before realizing it wasn’t effective in India. Dream11 pivoted to a new format in 2012 as daily fantasy sports.
The company also has changed its business model and the shift in format by eliminating advertisements and giving users the option to spend money on their teams instead.
In a specific contest, the money raised from all the participants will go into a pool. Once the match is over, the user(s) whose team(s) received the highest scores received the pool money after service fee deduction for the app.
Crossing Legal Barriers
Before implementing the pay-to-play version, Jain sought opinions from lawyers across the country on whether premium fantasy sports in India would be permissible.
If fantasy sports were not considered a skill game, the premium edition would fall within the scope of betting and gambling, which in India is illegal.
The fantasy games of Dream11 were predominately based on skills according to the legal advice Jain got.
The company then adopted a freemium model in 2012, where users had the option of playing for free, but could also put real money into their teams if they wanted to.
For nearly five years, the freemium model gained notoriety for Dream11 without hassles.
Later, in 2017, Varun Gumber, one of the users of Dream11 who lost nearly Rs 50,000 on the platform, decided to bring the company to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
In his petition, Gumber argued that fantasy sports were not a skill game, “and thus, they clearly amount to gambling.” Though Gumber’s plea was rejected by the court, Jain pointed out that this was not a general approval of fantasy gaming in India.
Dream11 is the official fantasy gaming partner of the International Cricket Council, the Big Bash League, the Caribbean Premier League, the Pro Kabaddi League, the Indian Super League, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), and the NBA.
Dream11 reportedly raised $100 million in a Series D funding round led by the Chinese multinational investment holding conglomerate Tencent in September 2019. In the Indian fantasy sports industry, Dream11 has 90% of the market share.