Skill-based online gaming in India moves a step closer to regulation

Published on:

India’s potential move towards progressive legislation has provided a firmer basis for the burgeoning gaming sector of the country, including news that the Council of Ministers will debate the need for a central framework for online gaming and NITI Aayog’s ‘Draft Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India’.

This welcome development was confirmed by the PMO in response to gaming lawyer Jay Sayta’s Right to Information request.

Any effort towards centralized regulation of online gaming would be a significant milestone in the rapidly growing sector in India. It is now the responsibility of each state to choose policies that create a patchwork of varied and constantly changing rules.

For example, casinos in Goa and Sikkim are allowed exclusively, and states have chosen varied views about skill-based gaming that are lawful in accordance with a ruling of the Supreme Court. The legitimacy of both skill-based and fantasy sports in many national courts is, however, still disputed.

In another significant stride forward, the Supreme Court rejected a petition from the chartered accountant and social activist Avinash Mehrotra, who sought to argue against prominent fantasy sports operator Dream11, that the company’s operation was pure gambling.

The two-member bench declined a second extension to Mehrotra’s deadline for filing papers and rejected the case. While a good step forward is still awaited, two additional petitions are still pending in the court.

According to AGB’s source, “this Supreme Court matter is of course of great importance to the Fantasy Sports sector as there has not been any final reasoned judgment from the Supreme Court in this regard. Such a decision which treats fantasy sports positively would be of immense benefit to fantasy sports operators and the overall online skill gaming sector as it would provide much-needed certainty with regard to the legal status of the game.”

Earlier this year, Kerala decided to follow in the footsteps of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu to banish rummy and other skill-based games from the state. However, Rajasthan High Court dismissed a plea seeking ban on providing or playing online fantasy games in the State after noting that such a direction would contradict Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, Live Law reported.