Bombay High Court quashes FIR against Wingame, rules it as game of skill

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A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and MM Sathaye of the Bombay High Court on Thursday provided relief to two developers Akshay Matkar and Satish Botalji after an FIR was filed against them for their online quiz game ‘Wingame’ under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.

The court observed that the game required a significant amount of mathematical skill to play and progress, which removed any factor of luck or chance in the game. The FIR was filed following a raid in November 2022 by Koregaon police (Dist. Satara).

According to the police, Botalji was conducting an online gaming or gambling business without licence and thus violated provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. During the raid the police saw numbers flashing on his computer screen and contended that illegal gambling was being carried out, the FIR alleges.

During the trial, the advocate for the petitioners, Rushikesh Barge, explained the intricacies of the game to the bench, saying that it requires players to solve mathematical multiple choice questions (MCQs) in order to make progress and earn points.

“We are of the considered opinion that this online game is not a game of chance, but there is mathematical skill involved. Apart from said skill, observation and ability to solve mathematical equations within time bound manner is also required, which definitely requires skills,” the bench explained as quoted by Bar and Bench.

“In our view, the present online game stands on better footing, and it is definitely preponderantly a game of skill and therefore, it cannot be said from mere averments in the FIR that any offence was committed under the said Act,” the bench added.

“Therefore, in our view with the allegations in the FIR as they stand, if the Petitioners are made to face trial, it will be an abuse of process of law, since no offence is made out as alleged in the facts and circumstances of the case,” the bench concluded.