On Friday (16th October 2020), the Rajasthan High Court dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the involvement of Dream 11 Fantasy Private Limited in offenses of betting and gambling.
The petition was filed by Ravindra Singh Chaudhary and he filed the PIL stating that Dream 11 Fantasy Private Limited provides a platform to its users for playing sports and games on a virtual platform, such as fantasy cricket, football, kabaddi, basketball, and hockey. He asserted that the said virtual platform, namely Dream-11, allows its users to register and play various games, to form their own teams made up of real players for cricket, football, kabaddi, and NBA with a maximum budget of 100 crores
In Dream 11, users initially have to pay an amount of Rs.100, out of which 20% is retained by Dream 11, and the remaining balance i.e. 80% of the balance is transferred towards the winning amount for the game. It was alleged that the game being played on the aforesaid platform is nothing else but “betting” on the cricket team. He also said that these online fantasy sports games are games of chance, thereby constituting illegal acts of gambling/ betting and that respondent authorities are not prohibiting this illegal act.
It was alleged that Dream 11 is not paying GST under proper classification which should be 28%, however, they are only paying 18%, and that too from a participant and retain it which actually means that they are paying tax on only 80% amount which is transferred towards winning amount of the game where they should actually be paying on 100%.
The main issue raised in this case was whether the online fantasy sports games offered on the Dream 11 platforms are gambling/betting. The division bench was headed by Indrajit Mahanthy. Mahanty clarified that since the result of a fantasy game does not only depend on sheer chance but also on the skill of the participant, and winning or losing a virtual team created by the participant is also independent of the outcome of the game or event in the real world.
The format of online fantasy games offered by Dream 11 is a game of mere skill and their business has protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India, the Court said.
Various courts have said, and it is also affirmed by the Supreme Court that “We are of the considered view that PIL has been filed without any real public interest, without disclosing the relevant facts and without proper research. Various judgments in respect of respondent, Dream 11 itself have not even been referred to in this PIL. The PIL is misconceived.”