The law of gambling in India is very weak, taking advantage of which many fantasy apps are doing their job. Not only this, many gaming apps are also taking advantage of this and are working on a large scale in India. They prove themselves legally correct by describing the game of chance as a game of skill. Such apps allow people to place bets on different types of games and win money. In this article, we will tell you how fantasy apps are taking advantage of weak gambling laws in India.
What are the laws for gambling in India?
The Public Gambling Act, 1867 was enacted by the Government in British India to ban gambling in India, under which the person who gambles and runs a gambling house can be prosecuted under section 45 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
This act allows all the states of India to make separate laws related to gambling. As a result of this, some gambling houses in Goa, Daman and Diu, and Sikkim have been allowed to function legally. The Public Gambling Act, 1976 was enacted for the states of Goa, Daman and Diu. Apart from this, amendments have been made in this Act from time to time.
Also on 4 March 2009, the Sikkim Government enacted the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008, under which a gambling house has to comply with the Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009 to obtain a license. The act legalizes games of chance or games of skill such as poker, cards, blackjack, etc., while prohibiting fantasy sports (such as Dream 11, My Team11, etc.). The IT Act, 2000 also takes effect in the case of online gaming.
Status of Gambling Laws in India:
As per gambling laws, horse racing and lotteries are considered completely legal in India. That is why the lottery is legal in states like Goa, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Nagaland, West Bengal, and Sikkim. Let us tell you that both online gambling and land-based casinos have been legalized only in Goa, Sikkim, Nagaland, and Daman.
Gambling is illegal in Maharashtra under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. Game of skill is illegal in Arunachal Pradesh as per the Telangana State Gaming Act, 1974 and as per the Telangana State Gambling (Prohibition) Act, 2012.
The Uttar Pradesh Act 21 of 1961, section 3 (w.e.f. 7-9-1961) provides that a person found gambling in the course of gambling or in a gaming house shall be deemed to have been guilty of such offense unless he proves it to be false.
According to the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, all online gaming and skill games were banned in the state of Karnataka, but in 2022 the Karnataka High Court lifted this ban. Similarly, different states have their own gambling laws.
According to the Public Gambling Act, 1867, a player or person running a gambling house can be punished with a fine of only ₹ 200 and/or imprisonment for three months if caught betting. Any bettor or gambling house owner can easily suffer these punishments.
What is Fantasy Sports Apps? What are their rules?
Fantasy Sports App provides its users the facility to create their own fantasy team according to the players playing in any sports match. With this team, the user has to join one or more cash contests. After this, points are awarded based on the performance of the player in the match and the team with the most points comes first in the contest.
For example, if there is going to be a match between India and Pakistan, then you can choose a total of 11 players from both teams, but only 7 players can be selected from one team. In this fantasy team, you have to choose the wicketkeeper, batsman, all-rounder, and bowler of the real team.
Minimum and maximum selection limits are also prescribed in each side. Points are determined according to the quality of each player, you have to choose a total of 11 players within 100 points. You cannot make changes to your team after the match has started. After this, points are given based on the performance of the player in the match. How many points will be awarded for performance is predetermined.
In which states are fantasy apps banned?
Fantasy apps are working legally in many states of India, but fantasy apps have been banned in the states of Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. In 2021, Dream11 was banned in Karnataka under the new law, but in 2022, the Karnataka High Court lifted the ban on them, calling it unconstitutional.
How are fantasy apps taking advantage of weak gambling laws in India?
Fantasy apps are working legally in many states of India, while the laws of some states declare it illegal. Although gambling is completely banned in India except in some states.
A person who is gambling or running a gambling house is prosecuted according to section 45 of the Indian Penal Code 1807. But skill sports have been legalized in many states of the country, including lottery and horse racing.
At present, many online gaming apps are also working in a legal way, and call themselves skill gaming apps. Games that require the preparation of a strategy before play and also the preparation of strategies during the game are classified as skill games.
In this case, the law follows a double standard, as in sports betting, the person placing the bet also devises strategies before the start of the match and during the match. But still batting is not legalized in India.
Since the law of gambling in India is quite old, there is no mention of online or internet gaming in it. In addition, the country’s law makes skill games legal and chances game illegal. Simultaneously, horse racing and lotteries are also legalized in almost all states, while these tend to be less of a skill game and more of a game of probability.
There is no advantage to any individual’s strategy in the lottery as only the probability of its outcome can be predicted. However, there are also many different types of lotteries, in which the research done by the player before placing the bet comes in handy.
Apart from this, in horse racing, a person puts a bet on the best horse after doing research in advance. It can be considered a sport of skill, as it requires the bettor to gather information about the past performance and current condition of the jockey and horse along with the game.
A game of skill and a game of probabilities are two different aspects. Skill games should include only those games that are determined solely by the skill of the player, such as chess. In this game, the player uses his strategic skills till the end. Apart from this all other cards, casino, fantasy, and sports betting is all based on probabilities. In this, it all depends on your luck.
Even including poker as a game of skill can raise many questions. Yes, but Rummy is a game of skill. But fantasy apps are taking full advantage of weak laws in India and are also working legally in the country. Due to weak gambling laws in India, there is no ban on online gaming and online betting. It seems that the Indian government does not even want to put a stop to this.
How Fantasy Sports Can’t be Game of Skill
The law and order of India treat fantasy sports as a game of skill and sports betting as a game of probability. In both types of games, the player collects information related to the field, the player’s current performance, pitch, and weather before the start of the match, and also spend money. In fantasy apps like Dream11, the option of joining a contest is given by spending thousands of rupees.
Joining a contest by spending money on a fantasy app is also a type of bet, as the player’s chances of winning are based on the actual player’s performance on the field. That is, if the player does not perform well on the field, then you cannot win. Also, there are more chances to lose in fantasy games. If it is compared with sports betting, then in sports betting, you can cover your past losses by making a strategy during the match.
Thinking fantasy cricket as a game of skill and sports betting as a game of probabilities seems like a joke. If you take a closer look at both the formats above, fantasy cricket cannot be a game of skill under any circumstances. Because here your victory and defeat are determined by the performance of the 11 players selected by you. Apart from this, cricket batting is determined by the performance of any one team or by the performance of anyone batsman or bowler.
For example, if you place a bet on a batsman scoring runs, then your bet will depend on the performance of that batsman. If you lose this bet, you can also cover your previous loss by placing a bet on the next batsman. There are many opportunities to win money here. Along with this, the bettor also needs to strategize in sports betting.
Fantasy apps taking advantage of outdated and weak gambling laws:
Gambling laws in India are very old and weak, as well as the wrong definition of skill games and chances games. Many probability sports in the country have been classified as skill sports, whereas games that rely on any kind of probability should never be classified as skill sports.
Simultaneously, if fantasy sports can be considered a game of skill, then sports betting should also be considered a game of skill, whereas fantasy sports have more risk than sports betting. Because it has to depend on the performance of 11 players selected from both the teams.
Even though there is more research involved than sports betting, your chances of winning are slim. Apart from this, once the match starts, you are dependent on the performance of the player. Yes, if there was a chance to showcase one’s skills in the middle match also and it could have been kept in the category of skill games, but it is not the case here at all.
After joining the contest by forming a team in Dream11, your chances of losing money are high and there is no other way to cover your loss in that match. Very few people are able to win more money in it. In contrast, in sports betting, you can plan your strategy throughout the match and use your skills and knowledge to bet.
In fact, fantasy apps are taking advantage of weak laws just to do business and the government is also getting the benefit from it. Along with this, 30% tax is also to be paid on the amount won above ₹ 1,00,000 in fantasy apps. Along with this, you also have to pay taxes while filing the income tax return.