In an interesting turn of events, a case came up before the Bombay High Court to decide if Ludo is a game of skill or just based on pure luck.
Ludo has been a major part of our childhood and of late became the main source of entertainment for most of us during the Covid induced lockdown as it allowed us to connect with our friends virtually. One question that often pops up during the game is whether the winner used some well-analyzed strategy or was the win a result of sheer luck.
Keshav Mule of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has filed a petition in Bombay High Court against Cashgrail Pvt Ltd, makers of the famous game ‘Ludo’. The petition seeks registration of an FIR under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, and Sections 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.
Mule, in his petition, demanded that the game should not be called skillful rather it should be called a game of luck.
The Bench of Justice SS Shinde and Abhay Ahuja, on June 3, issued a notice seeking a reply from the State Government on the matter by June 22.
Before filing the petition, Mule had reached out to the VP Road Police Station regarding the matter. But when the police did not act on his complaint, he moved to the Magistrate Court.
The plea challenges the Feb 2, 2021 order passed by a Metropolitan Magistrate at the Girgaon Court which rejected his private complaint and refused to direct the police to register an FIR under the Prevention of Gambling Act and the Indian Penal Code. The Magistrate held that Ludo was a game of skill and not a game of chance and that it requires skills to win the game.
Senior Counsel Raja Thakare, appearing for Mule submitted that the order passed by the Magistrate was erroneous and that Ludo was a game of chance and not one of skill and the provisions of the Prevention of Gambling Act would apply if the same is played for stakes.
Muley filed the complaint after he saw children playing online ludo on its app with real money at stake which was later confirmed by online searches and videos. “In the context of the said videos the uploader encouraged people at large to play the game of ludo on the Ludo Supreme App and further claimed that it is an easy way of earning money with an assurance that one would only win money and not lose any,” the petition claims.
The plea before the High Court is that the App allows players to bet money and play the game with friends or strangers. The App demands Rs.5 from each player which makes the total sum of Rs.20, the winner gets Rs. 17 and Rs. 3 is remitted to the game App.
The argument put forth by the petitioner is that “Though no player has control over what the dice rolls out, the App and the algorithm used by it having possible control over the roll of dice cannot be disregarded.”
The petitioner submitted that the winning move is based on the roll of dice which is an event of ‘chance’ and ‘not skill’ cannot be disregarded and needs investigation. Playing Ludo for stakes amounts to betting or gambling and providing any place for such a game of ludo would attract Section 4 of the Gambling Act as an offense of opening a ‘common gaming house’.
“One cannot completely discount the possibility of a 3-year-old winning while playing the game of ludo against any other person and thus it is not a game of mere skill but a game of chance and therefore provisions of the Gambling Act are applicable to the above-mentioned activity. Therefore, there is no element of skill and there is a predominance of chance.”, the plea read.
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that gambling in the name of ludo is taking a form of social evil to which the youth are getting attracted and requested the court’s immediate intervention in the matter.
The matter is adjourned to be heard on June 22 after the response of the State Government has been filed.