Supreme Court upholds Dream 11 as a game of skill

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The Supreme Court has recently (vide its judgment dated July 31, 2021) has put the issue to rest as regards whether the platform ‘Dream 11’ amounts to gambling or is a mere game of skill. In its recent judgment in the case of Avinash Mehrotra V The State of Rajasthan & Ors., SLP (C) No. 18478/2020, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Rajasthan High Court to the effect that the online fantasy game ‘Dream 11’ involves skill and does not amount to gambling.

The Rajasthan High Court while originally discussing this issue observed that horse racing, foot racing, boat racing, football and baseball are a game of skill and judgment and not a game of chance. The Court was of the opinion that playing of a fantasy game by any user involves selection of a virtual team by such user which requires a considerable skill, judgment and discretion. In court of selecting a virtual team, the user has to assess the relative worth of each athlete/sportsperson as against all athlete/sportspersons available for selection. The user is also required to study the rules and regulations of the relevant sport as well as the strength(s)/weakness(es) of each athlete/player. The Court was of the opinion that the several aforementioned factors would definitely affect the result of the fantasy game.

In light of the above, the Rajasthan High Court went on to hold that “It can be safely deduced that the result of the fantasy games is not determined merely by chance or accident. The skill of the participant determines the result of the game and has a predominant influence on the outcome of the fantasy game.” The High Court, while elaborating the rationale behind its decision, stated that “whether any particular team in the real-world match wins or loses, is also immaterial as the selection of virtual team by the participant involves choosing players from both the teams playing in the real world.”

The Court also briefly discussed the aspect of exercising of fundamental rights for entities offering fantasy sports. The Court observed that Dream 11 fantasy sport is a business activity and is entitled to the fundamental right conferred under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Contributed by: Mr. Gaurav Bhalla (Sr. Associate, Ahlawat & Associates

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