Fantasy Sports : Legal or Illegal?
Author: Mridul Prateek
Designation: B.A LL.B, Bharati Vidyapeeth, New Law College, Pune
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fantasy sports are on a rise in India, in recent times many people have started playing and joining different fantasy platforms to test their luck or we can say their skillset. There are so many fantasy platforms available in India and every platform has a separate user base. In this blog, we are going to discuss various aspects of fantasy sports in India and we are also going to dive into the legal aspects and past/recent judgements to determine whether it is legal or illegal.
There are around 10 million users on different fantasy platforms, numbers are kept on increasing as in 2016 the number was only 2 million and now in 2020, the number showed a rapid increase in the user base of online platforms to 10 million. There are so many online fantasy platforms like dream11,gamezy, Ballebaazi, bet365 Etc, which allows users to make their virtual team and users have to participate in a contest by depositing a certain amount and can compete with the users all over the country and then comes the interesting part when their team players perform well they would win the contest and certain prize money also, interesting ? Right.
WHAT IS FANTASY SPORT?
If we talk in simple words, A fantasy sport is a type of game, often played using the internet, where participants assemble imaginary or virtual teams of real players of a professional sport. These teams compete based on the statistical performance of those players in actual games.
Few examples of fantasy sports platforms are Dream11, Gamzey, Ballebaazi, bet365 Etc.
The reason why people are becoming an addict to these platforms is due to the intriguing prize money that shows when you open any platform and think about joining a contest. The prize money gathers the attention and gives hope to users about winning that particular amount.
LEGAL POSITION OF FANTASY SPORTS
The legal position of fantasy sports in India is dependent on whether the game qualifies as a “game of skill” or a “game of chance or luck”. Games of chance fall under the ambit of gambling and thereby restricted by state gambling laws. However, games involving some skills fall outside the scope of gambling laws and hence are legal in India.
The question of whether the fantasy sports should be considered a game of chance or a game of skill was posed before the Punjab and Haryana high court in Varun Gumber v. union territory of Chandigarh and then before the Bombay high court in Gurdeep Singh Sachar v. Union of India and in both the judgements it was upheld that the fantasy sports offering by Dream 11 is a “game of skill”.
Recently, the Rajasthan high court has dismissed a petition seeking a ban on Dream11 claiming the fantasy sports platform amounted to betting or gambling. The court upheld that
“the format of online fantasy games is a game of mere skill”. But contrary to that on September 25, the Andhra Pradesh government passed an ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh gaming act 1974, which bans the fantasy sports dream 11 as they believe a game of skills should be free of cost and it came into force with immediate effect.
THE GOOD AND BAD ASPECTS OF FANTASY SPORTS
Let’s first talk about the good aspects of fantasy sports-
1. FANTASY SPORTS INCREASES KNOWLEDGE OF SPORTS
Participating in fantasy sports requires a lot of knowledge as it is impossible to win a contest without proper knowledge and without knowing each player playing that particular sport.
2. INCREASES INTEREST IN ALL GAMES
If someone is interested in cricket or any particular sport because of fantasy sport there might be chances of developing an interest in any other sports.
3. THE JOY OF MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION
As sports fans, we all have opinions. That’s what is great about sports- you can find so many different opinions about any rumour, trade, player or coach.
Now, let’s discuss the bad aspects of fantasy sports-
1. IT’S ADDICTING
Yes, you have heard it right. Fantasy sports are addictive as if someone starts playing for once, he or she gets addicted to fantasy sports as it feels like you can earn/win a lot of prize money and there is a myth that the more you play, the more the chances to win huge.
2. IT MAKES YOU LESS PRODUCTIVE
Fantasy sports makes users less productive as if you play fantasy sports then trust me, you cannot do your work with full concentration as your mind is always there on the platform thinking whether your team is doing good/ whether you are winning or not. The pressure you feel while playing any fantasy sport would eventually affect your productivity.
3. IT CAUSES SUICIDE
Yes, we heard it many times that after losing a big amount some users committed suicide, they could not bear the pressure of losing such a big amount and that pressure made them commit suicide.
Till now we have seen what is fantasy sports, what are the legal aspects of it and what are the pros and cons of it.
To be honest, fantasy sports is a great thing/feeling to play but there is only one condition of it, the condition is if you are playing just to evaluate your skills and just playing it for fun, then trust me fantasy sports is great.
But the main thing is if fantasy sports is good only when users would play it for fun, then it should be free of cost and yes, the users may join the contests for free and compete with others on their respective fantasy platforms.
We have to evaluate in-depth about fantasy sports as it is increasing rapidly, we have seen so many suicide cases in India 6 states already banned fantasy sports so now it’s time that we collectively decide whether the fantasy sports is legal or Not?.