• Games of chance, where the winner is completely dependent on luck, the result is totally uncertain and a person cannot apply his/her brain to estimate the result or his/her efforts to influence the result. Generally, these games come under gambling and are considered to be as illegal.
• Games of skill is a type of category where skill plays the major role and the result depends on the relative knowledge, training, attention, experience, and/or cleverness of the participants. Generally, such games are not considered as ‘gambling’ and are legal in every means.
For a game to be considered a ‘game of skill’ under Indian law, the element of skill must have a major role than the element of chance in affecting the results of the game. Thus, if the skill is applied to the game and there is marginal luck factor then the game is not illegal.
Accordingly, games such as Rummy, Chess, Carom and Wagering on Horse Races have been recognized by the courts in India as games of skill.
The principal legislation governing gambling in India is the Public Gambling Act, 1867 (“PGA”). The PGA criminalizes the act of ‘gambling’ in a public forum and the keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. The PGA, however, creates an important exception in favor of games of skill, by stating that the provisions of the PGA shall [not] be held to apply to any ‘game of mere skill’ wherever played.
In determining whether a given game or contest is a game of skill or chance, Indian courts have adopted the standard of assessing the ‘dominant factor’ of a game. The two most important Indian cases in this regard are State of Andhra Pradesh v. K Satyanarayana (AIR 1968 SC 825) (the “Satyanarayana” case) and KR Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 1996 SC 1153) (the “Lakshmanan” case).
In the Satyanarayana case, the Supreme Court defined a ‘game of mere skill’ to mean a game “in which, although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated, success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and cleverness of the player.” By application of this definition, the Supreme Court held that the game of rummy was a game of skill, and did not amount to gambling under the PGA. While upholding the levy of a nominal service charge for provision of a physical space, cards, etc., to play a game of rummy, the Court reasoned:"Rummy...... requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorized and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of Rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly considered as a game of skill."
In the Lakshmanan case, the Supreme Court held that the betting on horse races was a game of skill. It rationalized that in a horse race the winner is not determined by chance alone, as the condition, speed and endurance of the horse and the skill and management of the rider are factors affecting the result of the race. The bettor has the opportunity to exercise his judgment and discretion in determining the horse on which to bet.
In order to achieve success at the SportsArena11 Games a user must have knowledge (gathered through systematic research), attention, experience and cleverness. The ‘skill’ element of the SportsArena11 Games is found mainly in two aspects: drafting and playing. Users are subject to several carefully structured constraints and limitations in the game rules (which minimizes the element of chance effecting the outcome) and are required to use their skills and relative worth of each player on the basis of his strengths and weakness in light of the scoring criteria used by SportsArena11 and make a theoretical evaluation of the player’s statistics over the course of the round at the time of drafting a fantasy team in a SportsArena11 Game. In order to succeed in the SportsArena11 Games, a user must apply his/her brain to judge the performance of each of his players in upcoming matches, and further the user is required to invest time and effort in analyzing the performance of his players. For these reasons, the SportsArena11 games has the focus on the skills rather than chance and hence we believe that it is legal under the eye of Indian Law. Accordingly, the SportsArena11 Games is not considered as ‘gambling’ under central and most state gambling statutes in India.
Apart from the PGA, which is a central legislation, several states across India have enacted and implemented their own laws governing gambling, gaming and other similar or related activities. Where a state law on the subject exists, it is considered superior than the PGA.
In spite of the PGA and most of the states considering it as the game of skill certain Indian states classify all games of mixed skill and chance as gambling regardless of whether skill is the major factor. In Assam, Telangana and Orissa in particular, games of mixed chance and skill cannot be played for any monetary consideration. Therefore, unfortunately, we do not currently offer the paid formats of the SportsArena11 Games to residents of Assam, Telangana and Orissa but do make available the ‘free-to-play’ formats of the SportsArena11 Games to such persons.