THE LEGALITY OF FANTASY GAMING IN INDIA


Author: Khushi Sharma

Manipal University, Jaipur









“The further you get into technology, the further you go into gaming. That’s the general rule.”


This quote, by Nick Johnson stands absolutely correct in this 21st century. A fantasy game is a game which is often played using the internet, where numerous number of participants assemble in an imaginary or exclusive way in which teams are formed. For example, players can select a team and earn cash prices, gifts and more according to their performance in the game. In accordance with the Indian Law, fantasy gaming is allowed all over India except in a few states namely Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.


As per NITI Aayog guidance, the OFSP (Online Fantasy Sports Platforms) should maintain statistical data of all their performers and submit them to a self-regulatory body called FIFS (Federation of Indian Fantasy sports). Fantasy games are banned in these states because people get snowed with debts, which leads to overthinking and people coming up with a decision to end their life.Financial issues are the major cause to instigate the state government to prohibit.


There is a difference between ‘Gaming’ and ‘Gambling’. ‘Gaming’ requires knowledge and skills to play and on the other hand ‘Gambling’ mostly relies on probability and luck. Gambling falls under 34, list-II of the 7th schedule to the Constitution of India, 1950. Gambling Act 1867 provides punishment of public gambling and the keeping of common gaming house. The penalty for breaking this law is fine of Rs.200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. Section 3,4 and 5 of the Gambling act forbid the operation of and the visit to gambling houses. The definition of the terms ‘gambling’ and ‘game of skill’ have been given out by a constitution bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Dr.KR Lakshmana v. State of Tamil Nadu &Anr[1].The court held that gambling is the payment of compensation for a chance to win. A game maybe of a chance or skill, or even a combination. A game’s fate entirely depends upon the luck, whereas, a game of skill depends upon the player’s skills, knowledge and experience. The court came to conclude that though a variable of possibility exists in a skill game, the variable of skill prevails over the chances. The court held that a ‘game of chances’ would come under gambling and is outlawed as per state law, whereas, ‘game of skill’ is known from gambling and comes under the protection of Article 19(1) (g) of the Indian constitution.


States like Goa, Daman and Diu and Sikkim regulate casino games in land-based games (which are played on the land of that state, gaming refers to gaming activities that take place within physical premises), gambling is legal in these places. There are still a number online fantasy games which are played in the absence of legality. Games which come under gambling like MPL (Mobile Premier League), Dream 11 and many more are considered to be illegal but people get so greedy and ravenous for money that sometimes they neglect the fact that how much money they have lost in such types of games. Some extreme fantasy games like ‘Blue Whale Challenge’, ‘Ice & Salt Challenge’ Mostly Known As ‘Dare Based Games’were almost making the teens keen to do these challenges and that ended in these players taking their lives as part of the game. In games like these the challenges were so insane and disagreeable like drawing a whale on your hand with a knife and sending the picture to prove that you have done the task, this game was to be completed under 50 days with these types of hideous tasks and many more. This game is still available but under different names now such as ‘A sea of whales’ and ‘Wake me up at 4:20 a.m.’ even after the ban. Such type of self-harming games should be banned at any cost.


The online gaming system is ruling all over the world. Not only kids but even the adults are addicted to them. [2]The most up to date users of the online fantasy games are in between the age of 18 to 40 years. [3]Out of 100% users only 20% of them participate in pay to play format, while 80% of them play sports games online without the concept of paying and playing. And to make it more attractive, the industries start including cash prices, exciting offers and sometimes give out electronics, e-gadgets, cars etc so that they could always catch the attention of the players. Teenagers are the most energetic ones when it comes to sports and that too online sports which provide them money. They find it very amusing as it’s a ‘Kill two birds with one stone’ because they think earning money by just playing online sports game is so easy and they just have the apt skill to do it. But one shouldn’t be over-confident, people should be at a normal pace during playing because you never know what might happen and people get duped with loss in no time. Hence, users get stressed out they feel a lot pressure which makes them come to conclusion of ending their life. The main reason to ban these games is suicide only, the government has no option but to ban these games in some states.In Tamil Nadu, the state had to take actions about these gambling online games so they decided to set a fine of Rs. 5,000 and 6 months of imprisonmentamending the Tamil NaduGamingAct, 1930 (Tamil Nadu III of 1930).


The state also banned electronic transfers. On the other hand, in Andhra Pradesh a fine of Rs. 5000 with imprisonment of a year or maybe 2 with Rs. 10,000 for any offence. It’s even a very It’s even a very promising industry which makes it a plus point for the people to invest their time and money. Even though gambling is illegal in anyway as per the gambling act, but these programs have argued that games like poker and rummy are games of skills, and have no connection to gambling.


In 2020, the world has become used to the virtual life and online platforms. The online gaming industry turned out to be the best and favourite nesting for all the people. Some studies found out that during the pandemic the broadening of users nested on to online games during the lockdown, which was obviously going to create a massive investment for the online gaming industries. [4]Downloading of online games increased by 21%. Investment in the gaming sector came up to 78% which was $ 173 million in 2020, and comparing it with the previous year which was $ 97.1 million in 2019. According to a financial times estimate, last year in September 2020 alone, Dream11 was the biggest daily online fantasy sports gaming operator.

In last 18 months, 6 petitions appealing for banning the online gambling and fantasy sports gaming have been filed in different high courts. Two year’s back in March, the Hon’ble Supreme Court stayed the working of an Hon’ble Bombay high court judgment dated 30th April 2019, in the case Gurdeep Singh Sachar v Union of Indiato validate the legality of fantasy sports, which are somewhere closely connected to gambling. The Madurai bench of the Hon’ble Madras high court released a notice to India captain Virat Kohli and cricket board president Sourav Ganguly and others for endorsing the online fantasy games.


This sector also the power to provide employment in India. The schemes seek to get going an individualist oversight body(self-regulatory) that will handle operational issues of the association. With an accurate progress this industry is also a ray of hope for Indiato be a worldwide leader in e-sports sector too. Skills acquired through gaming can be very relevant to certain areas. There are plenty of soft skills that gamers can utilise in a professional setting, such as teamwork, problem solving and strategic planning.Some states agreeing to ban them, while others aren’t against it makes it an unusual matter to have a conclusion on. It is an acid test for both the court and government.


The bottom line is that the online fantasy gaming industry is a blessing in disguise. India needs to save and exploit for their own good.[5]In a recent report by Deloitte, this industry is to reach at $2.8 billion by 2022. Our P.M. MR. Narendra Modi himself has said to get into the prospective of India’s gaming sector, which is leaded by many global companies. With so much of help, undoubtedly there is no question that India’s OFPS sector wants a simple change in the law that leads them. All being well that difference comes closer with more benefits for both the business and country. In my opinion online gaming is a satire it has both pros and cons. But mostly people see the pros as it’s a growing world of technology, at ease and very simple to use. People mostly use the short and fast way to gain money.Everyone wants to do something which is convenient and easy for them gain as s much as money they want. Therefore, online gaming is their ‘to go’ option always. The issue of online gambling in India in still remains a grey area which is yet to be judged by Courts of India. Necessary inferences can be drawn from passed orders by the Court while deciding the issue of whether a particular game is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’.




REFERNCES

https://www.livemint.com/

https://indianexpress.com/

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/

https://www.lexology.com/






[1]1996 SCC (2) 226 [2]https://indianexpress.com/ [3]https://indianexpress.com/ [4]https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ [5]https://www.livemint.com/

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