Exclusive: SC to hear appeal against Rajasthan HC Dream11 decision tomorrow

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The Supreme Court will tomorrow hear an appeal against a Rajasthan High Court decision, which held that online fantasy sport platform, Dream11, involves skill and is not gambling. The Special Leave Petition by Avinash Mehrotra is now listed for hearing tomorrow before a bench comprising of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice C.T. Ravi Kumar.

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.

The petitioner had termed Dream 11 as a play of sheer chance involving betting on the cricket team. The petition had referred to a February 2020 decision of the New York Supreme Court, which, according to him, had held that the fantasy sports game was “pure gambling”.

The Rajasthan High Court in its decision in October 2020, held that winning or losing in a Dream 11 game depended on the skill and knowledge of the participant. On the matter of GST, the Rajasthan HC while referring to  a Bombay HC decision left it to authorities to decide. The Bombay High Court decision in Gurdeep Singh Sachar v. Union of India (which has since been stayed by a 3-judge bench of Supreme Court)

“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 had opined.

The Rajasthan HC had further observed 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 Tamil Nadu government’s appeal before the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court (MHC) order that struck down gaming ban law  enacted in 2021 as unconstitutional will also be heard tomorrow (9 September.) The case status on the Supreme Court shows the matter to be listed before a bench comprising of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Vikram Nath at Cause List No. 4.