Fantasy sports games have become hugely popular in recent years, drawing players in with the promise of easy money. However, there has been discussion regarding their legitimacy and classification as games of chance or skill. .
India's public gambling and gaming establishment operations are governed by the Public Gambling Act of 1867. The fact that gambling is governed by state law has led to a patchwork of laws across the nation because each state has created its own regulations. A few states, including Daman, Goa, and Sikkim, have legalised various forms of gambling, despite the fact that most states have exceptions that forbid gambling and betting.
The first fantasy sports games appeared in the 19th century. In these games, players take on the roles of team managers and selectors, building virtual teams by selecting actual athletes from professional sports. The performance of real-life athletes determines the outcome of these online competitions between these virtual teams. A self-governing body for fantasy sports platforms in India, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), was established in 2017. The legality of fantasy sports games came under scrutiny in the case of Varun Gumber v. Union Territory of Chandigarh & Others in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court examined the operations of Dream11, a popular fantasy sports platform, and the role of participants paying entry fees. It concluded that skill played a significant role in fantasy sports as participants had to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of athletes, making it a game of skill rather than chance.
The right to engage in any profession, trade, or business is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. This protection is not available to gambling because it is not regarded as an occupation, trade, or business. However, skill-based gaming sites like Dream11, which do not engage in gambling, are legitimate businesses covered by Article 19(1)(g).
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) liability of fantasy sports platforms is another issue the courts have addressed. In a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) submitted to the Bombay High Court (Gurdeep Singh Sachar v. Union of India), the issue of whether or not the GST applied to the entry fees collected was in dispute. According to Schedule III of the CGST Act, 2017, the court determined that the amount kept by the platform as commission qualified as an "actionable claim" and was therefore exempt from GST.
Fantasy sports games are not regarded as gambling or betting in India, but rather as skill-based activities. Players can take pleasure in these games knowing that they are legitimate as determined by judicial decisions and regulatory bodies. Fantasy sports games like those provided by Dream11 have been regarded as legitimate activities in India based on the rulings of numerous high courts, including Punjab and Haryana, Bombay, and Rajasthan. The courts have acknowledged the element of skill present in these games as well as the strength of skill over chance. Platforms for fantasy sports are legal businesses that are protected by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. Additionally, they benefit from exemptions from GST laws for money collected as entrance fees.