The legality of Dafabet, Bet365 in India

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Dafabet, Betway, and Bet365.

Normal Indian sports enthusiasts might have probably heard of these names unless they are living under a rock. The global betting industry is estimated to be over US$ 218 billion and these entities have a major market share. The betting industry thrived worldwide during Covid19 induced lockdown despite a shrunk in sports events on which the wager is based. In India, when most of the industries were suffering heavy losses, online gaming was at an all-time high

Dafabet, Betway, and Bet365 entered the Indian market during this time. Although they were accessible earlier too, they never advertised their presence aggressively due to the fact that betting is illegal in India. It is during this time, the public saw them advertise during high-profile cricket and soccer telecasts.

Betaway recruited former cricketer Kevin Petersen and Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri to promote the platform. Dafabet operates DafaNews, a surrogate website that is one of the sponsors for 2018-19 champions Bengaluru FC, two-time winners Chennaiyin FC, and Mumbai City FC.

So how are they operating if they are illegal? Technically, none of the three entities has a physical presence in India. Dafabet is a Philippines-based entity while the other two are based in tax haven Malta. 

Wait, so how are Dream11, MPL operating, if Dafatbet, Bet365 are illegal?

In this post, we have earlier explained how fantasy sports platforms are legal in India. So do we mean Dream11 is legal in India but not Dafabet, Bet365? Yes. Confused? To be clear, the format offered by Dream11 and other fantasy sports platforms is different from that of Dafabet and Bet365. 

Fantasy sports are the games that occur over a predetermined number of rounds in which participating users select, build and act as managers of their virtual teams (constituted of real players or teams) that compete against virtual teams of other users, with results tabulated based on statistics, scores, achievements, and results generated by the real individual sportspersons or teams in certain designated professional sporting events. The result in a fantasy sport would depend on the performance of all selected sportspersons. There is no binary result – yes or no.           

Meanwhile, what is offered on Dafabet, Betaway is a wager having only binary results i.e., you either win or lose upon the happening in of an uncertain event. You wager on a team winning or losing or a batter scoring x runs in a match and so on which have binary and uncertain results. 

But you may argue, even results in fantasy sports are dependent on uncertain events. Yes, every sporting event has some sort of uncertainty. The Supreme Court, in M.J. Shivani v. State of Karnataka (1995(3) SCR 329) recognised the fact that chance plays a role even in the game of mere skill.

But what differentiates Dafabet, Betway etc., and fantasy portals is the preponderance of chance or skill i.e., what dominates the result? The difference between games of chance and games of skill is succinctly explained in the Law Commission Report No. 276 issued in July 2018 (LC Report):

Games of chance are those where the winner is predominantly determined by luck; the result of the game is entirely uncertain and a person is unable to influence such result by his mental or physical skill. The person indulging in game of chance wins or loses by sheer luck and skill has no role to play. On the other hand, the result of a game of skill is influenced by the expertise, knowledge and training of the player. In India, games of chance fall under the category of gambling, and are generally prohibited, while games of skill, falling outside the ambit of gambling are usually exempted.”

In the format offered by Dafabet, Betway, etc the result which is essentially a hedge on the binary result would fall under gambling which is banned in all states except Sikkim. Whereas, the format offered by fantasy sports platforms requires more effort than just placing a wager on two uncertain events – win or loss. Further, the format of the online fantasy sports as a ‘game of skill’, has been consistently recognized by multiple High Courts across India and the Supreme Court of India, including in its recent order dated 30.07.2021 in a case titled ‘Avinash Mehrotra vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors.

So, aren’t law enforcement authorities taking any action against illegal betting apps?

The answer is yes, law enforcement authorities have turned a blind eye so far at least as per publicly available data. In October last year, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan had written to Central Government requesting a ban on 132 gaming websites including Betaway, Bet365, and Dafabet. Further, under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, intermediaries are barred from hosting or transmitting content relating to or encouraging gambling. But it appears there is no proactive implementation of this requirement.

There is a technical difficulty in taking action against these websites, which is noted in the LC Report. “As gambling websites are hosted in countries where gambling is legal, it is difficult for Indian law enforcement agencies to take any legal or remedial action.” 

Restrictions under Foreign Exchange laws: 

The foreign exchange laws in the present form prohibit transactions concerning gambling, lottery. This means entities like Dafabet, Betaway which have no physical presence will be hit by the prohibition when they try to offer these services. 

To overcome the prohibition, the operators have been using business entities based in India for transacting with users. As explained in this post by, every time you deposit money into Betway, Daffabet you are actually depositing money with some fictitious entity based in India. The UPI IDs and bank accounts they use change frequently to evade scrutiny from banking authorities. But it is still a mystery how they are managing the banks which are extra cautious with retail customers.  

At the time of writing this, we tried to create an account on and deposit small amounts through UPI. In all of our attempts, we were directed to GPay ids of individuals. 

Payment to be made in the name of Vignesh Kuppuswamy

Users may also note that they may not have any legal recourse in India in case of any fraud, non-payment of winnings by these betting apps.