Fantasy gaming apps like Dream 11 are widely called gambler’s portal but are not legally considered as gambling applications. Why is to so? What is the legal justification behind it? Why are they allowed to operate freely without any restrictions?
For that, we first need to understand how do they operate.
Basically, the fans are required to assemble a team virtually by choosing their mates from a list of real players to set up a virtual premise resembling the performance anticipations in the real world. Once you have created your team that you think will outperform in real-life games, you can step into a contest by paying a small entry fee that is pooled together. In return to this, the fantasy app as a deliverable, promises to distribute the win proceeds to the respective players in the winning team.
Another question that not strikes us is that how would you win a game?
It’s quite simple. If your players go step into the ground or pitch and perform extremely well by scoring a lot of runs, taking several wickets, or holding spectacular catches, you will become eligible to collect multiple points. So basically, it is all about how well you choose your team virtually and how well the chosen players perform in the real world.
One thing to note here is that you will be considered one of the winners only when you score points above a certain threshold. And if you are a good and experienced decision-maker you could win thousands and lakhs of rupees in just a matter of few hours (At least that is what Dream11 and other such apps promise).
This resembles what gambling is and yet it is legal! So what is different here? What is the catch?
No doubt the format of the game is somewhat like the actual gambling process with all kinds of similar features and setup. The overnight huge monetary awards in exchange for a minimal entry fee by betting on real-life players actually performing in competitive games.
The first catch in this whole idea is that we barely have clarity on gambling laws. The laws at the central level are ambiguous and gnomic. In fact, for starters, many states have their own laws in context with gambling. For example, 13 states in India do not consider the lottery system as illegal and the Casinos are illegal everywhere except Goa and Sikkim.
Moreover, the basic gambling law known as The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is derived from and based on the colonial enterprise and thus, is not suitable to deal with and take care of the activities on the internet.
Thus, fantasy gaming apps like Dream11 are not considered illegal.
Dream11 has also clearly and briefly expressed on its official website that-
The Court, in its ruling, stated that playing the Dream11 game involves considerable skill, judgment, and discretion. And that success on Dream11 arises out of users’ exercise, superior knowledge, judgment, and attention. The Court also held that ‘the element of skill’ had a predominant influence on the outcome of the Dream11 game.
But as and when these apps started coming up, the loopholes in the act were put forward in front of the people who were obviously befuddled about the legal aspect surrounding the business.
Soon, the same was highlighted by several legal players in the country bringing it to the notice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court. Now, it was up to the highly qualifies judges of these high courts to lay a decision on the matter — Is Dream11 based on the concept of gambling?
Now the point is between a bet on chance and a bet in skill. If one bets on an uncertain event with a 1:1 probability of coming true, it is gambling but when an individual bets on a certain event in which some sort of skill is involved it is not considered gambling. For example, rolling a dice and betting on a six is a matter of chance but betting on a mathematical equation’s answer with your knowledge is a matter of skill.
A game of skill is dependent upon the individual’s awareness, knowledge, training, experience, and adroitness. And thus, even an outsider to the real game can tell you apt judgments by using their combination of skill and chance.
Even though a real-life game of cricket has a certain amount of chance involved, there is also a high degree of skill involved. Thus, the courts have simply relied on the “skill test” to make a distinction between the game of skill and the game of chance. If the parties to the suit are able to prove that the game or bet is based on skill and not on chance, then the game is said to have passed the “skill test”. This means that in the game the variable component of adroitness should clearly surpass the component of chance or luck to not be classified as a gambling activity. But demarking this distinction is not a piece of cake as it is highly personal and would vary from person to person making it more and more difficult for the courts to decide, However, in the case of Dream 11, the judges decided to side with the likes of the fantasy app.
Moreover, what is interesting to note here is that Dream11, just to prove it is a game of skill, succinctly branded itself with the tagline “Khelo dimag se”. This has been done to reiterate the fact that it is a game of intellect and knowledge and unless somebody can prove otherwise, they will continue to remain legal.