The Legal Status and Opinion of Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) in India

India has seen a huge surge in the user base of Online Fantasy Sports (OFS). The industry is almost a decade old, but since lockdown it has increased its market. Fantasy Sports Platforms (FSP) are massively increasing and have reached the skies in the last two years.

Lockdown has brought more users to this platform, increasing its user base. Fantasy Gaming Platforms (FGP) are legal in most states but are still viewed as controversial.

An Online Fantasy Sports Platform (OFSP) allows people to create teams based on their real-life counterparts and win exclusive prices.

What are Online Fantasy Sports?

Fantasy Sports (FS) are used on platforms where games are played online about an ongoing match. People can register on such apps and involve themselves in a particular league or match. Users have to create an online team using real-life players, and based on the performance of those players, users will gain rewards.

Players can participate in any ongoing events or leagues, be it Regional, National, or International. The most popular partnerships are Indian Premiere League (IPL), Indian Super League (ISL), Euro Cup, English League, and more. Online Fantasy Sports have become so successful that many leagues have them as their sponsors.

Since the boom of Fantasy Sports in India, tons of platforms have flooded the market. Here is one of the popular Online Fantasy Sports Platforms (OFSP).

General Opinions on Online Fantasy Sports

Online Fantasy Sports are legal in India, still viewed as illegal by many. Many questions have raised about the legality of such platforms. It is also known as borderline gambling or actual gambling.

Every platform is operating on a small loophole that states that any skill-based game won’t be considered illegal. Every state, except Assam, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Nagaland, granted permission to operate their game without any limitations. Though there are rising numbers in the user base, many still view this as gambling. Fantasy sports marketing is going at full pace with sports celebrities as brand ambassadors. Players like Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Hardik Pandya are a few of the faces. Most of the IPL teams are sponsored by such platforms, signifying their popularity.

Game of Skill in Online Fantasy Sports

The law against gambling states that any place where money is betted or won at a probability of chance is illegal.

Fantasy Sports Platforms (FSP) have carefully threaded this line and have based themselves on a skill-operated game. It states that the user doesn’t randomly place a bet on a team and wins at 50% probability. For a player to win, he has to create a unit based on the top players he thinks will score. It adds the bonus of skill in his bet and thus wins if he’s accurate.

Users must analyze the players and their past games to determine their future performance. They may create a team based on the player’s performance, ability, knowledge, and experience. If their knowledge is correct, they win monetary rewards. It puts all the Online Fantasy Sports within the boundaries of law and is protected. They are viewed as legal businesses and are operated without any complications.

The legality of Online Fantasy Sports in India

Fantasy platforms are running freely in India and on a massive scale. It has come a long way since the previous decades. Fantasy gaming is legal, though its legality is often questioned and put through the eyes of the law. Several petitions filed, stating fantasy gaming is gambling in disguise. 

Punjab and Haryana High Court passed the judgment in favor of fantasy sports.

The Court stated in Varun Gumbar vs The Union Territory of Chandigarh that a participant generating a team is forming it solely on his knowledge and skill about that game. The decisions have affected their game and not chance. It, was mentioned that Dream11 rewards users for their mastery and attention to detail. Punjab, and Haryana High Court dismissed the case in 2019.

Bombay High Court also observed that Fantasy sports operate on the user’s skill and accurate information about the league one is playing. The result isn’t based on the chance of winning or losing of the team but on the player’s performance. It ruled out the probability of chance and added skill to it. Gurdeep Singh Sachar vs Union Of India, the decision was favored by Dream11 and was considered legal.

In 2020, a similar subject matter was brought in front of the Rajasthan High Court. A Petition was filed against Dream11, which considered it a gambling site. The case of Chandresh Sankhla vs the State of Rajasthan. Court referred to a similar obstacle faced by the Court of New York. The Court sided their opinions with Fantasy Sports Platform, stating the use of the skill is more compared to chance. Rajasthan also adopted a similar decision, siding with Dream11.

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