Because it requires a substantial degree of skill, judgment and discretion, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in India has ruled that playing fantasy sports cannot be considered gambling.
The ruling, made by Justice Amit Rawal, was in response to Varun Gumber, a resident of Chandigarh state, The Times of India reported.
Gumber, according to the report, accused fantasycricket.dream11.com of illegal gambling after he lost money while playing some games on the website. The petitioner claimed he deposited INR50,000 ($785) on the website, which he lost when he participated in two fantasy sports matchup games. Gumber asked the court to criminally prosecute the Dream11 under the Public Gaming Act, 1867.
The court, however, rejected Gumber’s petition on grounds that he himself “created a virtual team,” and chose the players himself, which shows that fantasy sports games require substantial skill, efforts and statistics.
“After forming a virtual team as per his own selection, knowledge and judgment, which is thoughtful will, he joined various leagues and after registration which was declared before participating,” Rawal said in his ruling, which also quoted a previous Supreme Court judgment that held horse racing and betting on it to be a game of skill.
In the 29-page order, the high court also ruled that fantasy sports is not gambling, meaning it is a business activity that is protected by the right to free trade and commerce guaranteed under Article 12(1)(g) of the Constitution.
Lastly, the court held that Dream11’s operator is duly registered as an incorporated entity with the registrar of companies and has been regularly paying service tax and income tax.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling is the first order ever given by an Indian high court tackling the legality of fantasy sports in the country, especially on whether it can be considered as a game of skill.