A division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices BR Gavai and CT Ravi Kumar today dismissed another Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by a chartered accountant and social activist Avinash Mehrotra claiming that fantasy sport games like Dream11 amounted to gambling. The case pertains 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.
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).
In a related development, another bench of the Supreme Court issued notices on an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the Madras HC decision quashing the 2021 amendments to Tamil Nadu Police Act making gaming for stakes illegal. This matter will now be listed tentatively after ten weeks