Fantasy sports platform, Dream11, has yet again been in the news for the official status of the application. Recently, Dream11 won the title sponsorship for the 2020 Indian Premier League, but the prejudice about it being a betting app has still remained.
Indian Premier League’s (IPL) official sponsor Dream11, has been facing legal issues. A special leave petition (SLP) was filed against the gaming application in the Supreme Court on 3 September, challenging a Rajasthan HC order which upheld the legality of Dream11. The HC had ruled that the Rajasthan government was not violating laws by allowing the gaming platform to operate. The ruling had come on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which alleged that Dream11 was involved in ‘illegal betting and gambling activities.’
The plea was filed in independent capacity by Avinash Mehrotra, a social activist and financial consultant. The petition mentions that the PIL filed by Chandresh Sankhla was dismissed according to orders passed by the High Courts of Bombay, Punjab and Haryana, as all of them termed fantasy sports as games of skill. Mehrotra said, “The plea was aimed to seek clarity on regulations governing fantasy sports. Online gaming and gambling, wherever real money is involved, is a risk to the society, and leads to hard-earned money lost by people. This has serious social consequences, and should not be permitted till proper regulations are brought into force.”
An SLP filed by the Maharashtra government late in 2019 forced a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde, to stay the Bombay high court order that had essentially given the fantasy sports operator a free run to operate across leagues. The Public Gaming Act of 1867 governs gambling and betting in India. Gambling is legal in three Indian states, namely Goa, Diu and Daman and Sikkim. Anything that involves money and is ‘predominantly a game of chance’ is punishable. Rummy was the first game to win a Supreme Court sticker of legitimacy in its favour back in 1968 itself. Nagaland also legalised online gambling, albeit only ‘games of skills’, in 2015. Telangana in 2017 extended its Telangana Gaming Act, 1974 which forbids online gambling.