Indian Premier League (IPL) official sponsors Dream11 is facing legal trouble ahead of the annual cricketing extravaganza to be held in UAE from September 19. A special leave petition (SLP) was filed against the gaming platform on Thursday (September 3) in the Supreme Court challenging a Rajasthan HC order which upheld the legality of Dream11. The HC had ruled that the Rajasthan government was not violating any laws by allowing the company to operate.
The ruling had come on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which alleged that Dream11 was involved in “illegal betting and gambling activities.”
According to an Outlook report, the plea was filed by social activist and financial consultant Avinash Mehrotra in his independent capacity. The 200-page petition says the court dismissed a PIL filed by Chandresh Sankhla on the basis of orders passed by the High Courts of Bombay, Punjab and Haryana, that said fantasy sports are “games of skill and do not amount to gambling.”
Mehrotra said the plea was aimed at seeking clarity on regulations governing fantasy sports. “Online gaming and gambling, where the real money is involved, is a risk to society, and leads to hard-earned money being lost by a lot of people. This has serious social consequences, and should not be permitted till such time proper regulations are brought into force,” Mehrotra told.
An SLP filed by the Maharashtra government late in 2019 forced a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde, to stay the Bombay high court order that had essentially given the fantasy sports operator a free run to operate across leagues.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh government amended a bill on the Andhra Gaming Act, 1974 which if passed by both Houses, will make online games like rummy and poker that involve money transactions illegal in the state.
The Public Gaming Act of 1867 governs things like gambling and betting in India. Anything that involves money and is “predominantly a game of chance” is punishable. Rummy was the first to win a Supreme Court sticker of legitimacy in its favour way back in 1968.
Sikkim enacted a law allowing regulated online gambling for games such as poker, rummy, blackjack, roulette and backgammon in 2008. Nagaland also joined the bandwagon and legalised online gambling, albeit only “games of skills”, in 2015. However, Telangana in 2017 extended its Telangana Gaming Act, 1974 which forbids online gambling, while explicitly defining rummy as not a game of skill.