Exclusive: SC dismisses review petition seeking reconsideration of decision holding Dream11 to be game of skill

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The Supreme Court today quashed Varun Gumber’s review petition related to the 2017 Punjab & Haryana High Court judgement ruling fantasy sports to be a game of skill. The original appeal was dismissed by Supreme Court more than three years ago.

Dismissing the appeal, the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Dinesh Maheswari held that the review petition was filed with an inordinate delay without any reasons and even on merits, the order of which review has been sought does not suffer from any error warranting its reconsideration.

This dismissal only affirms the settled position that fantasy sports are games of skill. On September 9 this year, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravi Kumar dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) claiming that fantasy sport games like Dream11 amounted to gambling. This case pertained to an appeal against the decision of Rajasthan High Court delivered in October 2020.

It is worth noting that a bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and B.R. Gavai in August 2021 dismissed a similar appeal holding the issue was not res integra and had been the subject of several decisions, including one in June 2017 and two more in October and December 2019.

While so, the challenges by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments against the respective High Court decisions quashing gaming ban laws as unconstitutional is pending before the Supreme Court.

In a related development, tax authorities are of view that online gaming companies in India have allegedly conducted massive tax evasion in the past few years.  The tax department has classified rummy offerings of Karnataka based Gameskraft as gambling and issued a recovery notice of INR 21,000 crores. The company has now challenged the recovery notice before the Karnataka High Court.