Fantasy sports is a growing concept in India. More and more people want to be a part of the fantasy sports community and try their hands. According to a recent study, there are close to 20 million fantasy gamers within India and that number is expected to rise to more than 100 million. The Indian online gaming industry is projected to become a one billion dollar industry by 2021.
With that, the entire online fantasy gaming industry is on course to tremendous growth. But with that popularity it becomes important understand the law around fantasy sports in the country.
Legality of fantasy sports in India
The legality of fantasy sports in India depends on whether the game qualifies as a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’. Games of chance are more to do with the ambit of gambling and are as a result restricted by the gambling laws of the state. However, If we consider the fact that a substantial degree of skill (mathematically, more than 50%) fall outside the scope of ‘chance’ or the laws of gambling then it is stated as ‘legal’ in India.
Whether a fantasy sport is a game of skill or a game of chance is firmly based on the modalities of each game. The courts have used the ‘predominance of skill test’ to determine that horse racing and card games such as rummy and poker are in fact ‘games of skill’.
Court judgment on Dream11, India’s leading fantasy platform
The question of whether the fantasy sport offering by Dream11 is a ‘game of skill’ was posed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Union Territory of Chandigarh and was later passed on to the Bombay High Court in Gurdeep Singh Sachar v. Union of India as the “Dream11 Judgments” . Both the Dream11 Judgments upheld that the fantasy sports offering by Dream 11 Prediction is a ‘game of skill’ basis these were the following submissions that were made by the respondent company:
- A user is required to utilize considerable skill, judgment and more importantly discretion while drafting a fantasy team of their choice.
- A user is required to go through the guidelines and rules of the game, as well as the point distribution system that is deployed by the fantasy platform; for instance, in the fantasy cricket section of Dream 11, a user needs to evaluate certain statistics for skills such as total runs, batting average, number of half-centuries and centuries, strike rate, number of wickets taken and much more.
- For a user to succeed and earn a reward one has to exercise, and make an effort to superior knowledge, and judgment; another example is that, in the fantasy cricket game of Dream11, bonus points are awarded to the users based on the performance of fantasy team’s captain and vice-captain (that are double the points earned)
The Dream11 case judgments have held Dream11 to be a ‘game of skill’ and not a ‘game of chance’. So if an individual is confident about his analytical skills on the basis of who will win today match? He can excel in the field through his through knowledge and judgment. However, it should be noted that these courts only examined the format of Dream11 and did not offer any views or analysis on the formats and offerings of other fantasy sports operators.
That being said there are close to 60 other fantasy sports platforms that have their own distinct nature of operating, engaging and distributing points to the large number of users. Nevertheless the majority of those fantasy sport platforms do rely on the basis of their application and level of gaming being based on ‘skill’.