Crucial fantasy sports hearing in Supreme Court today

Published on:

A Supreme Court Bench, led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice KM Joseph and Justice BR Gavai, will today hear the “Avinash Mehrotra vs the State of Rajasthan” case that could have potential ramifications for the future of fantasy sports and online real money gaming (RMG) in India.

Mehrotra’s lawyers want the Supreme Court to declare fantasy and online RMG as gambling, however, the biggest players in the business like Dream11 and MPL have been fighting court battles across states in the country to have their offerings declared as games of skill.

ALSO READ: Ludo matter in Bombay High Court: Next hearing on 8 July

Justice Nariman, however, is well versed with India’s fantasy sports scenario. Every time he’s heard the games of skill vs chance conflict, he’s ruled against those arguing in favor of wanting fantasy declared a game of chance and hence a form of betting.

What is interesting this time around is the fact today’s hearing comes on the back of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks about gaming. Recently, PM Modi remarked that online games add mental stress to the younger generation, adding that the ethos of a lot of themes games was not Indian.

In September last year, a Special Leave Petition (SPL) was filed in the Supreme Court challenging a February 2020 Rajasthan High Court order that dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that appealed to stop “illegal betting and gambling activities by fantasy sports operator Dream11.”

The SLP against Dream11 was filed by Avinash Mehrotra, a social activist and financial consultant. His 200-page petition stated that the Rajasthan High Court junked a PIL filed by Chandresh Sankhla based on rulings of High Courts of Bombay, and Punjab and Haryana, that said fantasy sports are “games of skill and do not amount to gambling.”

Mehrotra’s SLP wants the apex court, which stayed in March a 2019 Bombay High Court Order in favour of Dream11, to be reviewed thoroughly.

Despite the many ambiguities regarding online gaming legislation and policies in the country, Dream11 has managed to win two High Court verdicts so far.

It now remains to be seen how Justices Nariman, Gavai and Joseph deal with the case that could shape the future of online gaming in India.