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Is Fantasy Cricket Legal in India?

8 min read
Is Fantasy cricket legal in India

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In recent years, fantasy cricket has become incredibly popular, especially in cricket-obsessed countries like India. Millions of Indian cricket enthusiasts now enjoy playing fantasy cricket games because of the proliferation of smartphones and easy access to the internet. However, there is controversy around these applications’ legality, which has left users perplexed. This article explores fantasy cricket applications’ legal standing in India. In this article, we will answer the issue, “Are fantasy cricket apps legal to play in India?”

Understanding Fantasy cricket

In the internet game of fantasy cricket, players choose real-life cricketers for their virtual teams. The players’ points and prizes are awarded based on how well these selected players perform in actual matches. The objective is to outperform other users in point totals and move up the leaderboard to earn rewards.

In a nation where cricket is more of a religion than a sport, millions of supporters should be expected. Fantasy cricket has become quite popular in India as a result. If you’re wondering why this idea has become so popular in India, the reason is straightforward: cricket is their national sport. You’ve surely observed that every household has a cricket analyst who is well-versed in all statistics and player information. These Indian fantasy leagues have touched the hearts of these individuals and assisted them in using their talents to earn money. These modest pundits all went on to triumph in different fantasy cricket competitions. 

Guideline and legal Status of Fantasy cricket

There aren’t many rules in India governing fantasy gaming applications, however different gaming laws can be used to interpret fantasy gaming regulations. Fantasy gaming is not specifically included as a topic in schedule VII of the Indian Constitution, but it is nonetheless classified as gambling and betting. It is listed on the state list, providing the state the power to enact legislation on the subject.

Public Gambling Act

Understanding the country’s regulatory environment for online gaming and gambling is crucial to understanding the legality of fantasy cricket applications. The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is the primary piece of legislation governing gambling regulations in India. The Act forbids the operation of gaming establishments and the encouragement of gambling in real world settings. The Act does not, however, specifically include fantasy sports or internet gambling.

Similar conclusions were made in the 276th Law Commission, which further ruled that games based only on skill cannot be regarded as gambling. Numerous times, the Indian courts have deemed fantasy gaming applications to be games of skill. Additionally, the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulations) Act of 2008 permits skill-based games after obtaining a licence from the appropriate government. 

Read More: Top 9 Fantasy Apps in India You shouldn’t Miss

Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regularisation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2015

The first state law in India that recognised fantasy applications as games of skill is the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regularisation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2015. To release the app on the market, the law requires the app creators to secure a licence.

A game of skill where participants must use their ability, talent, knowledge, and tactics to analyse, think, and build methods to win is a lawful activity, according to Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. It is possible to win without relying just on luck by using judgement and analysis.

Because of this, fantasy cricket falls under the category of a game of skill where players must utilise their knowledge of sports and experience to build fantasy teams.

It is crucial to remember that each state in India may have different laws governing fantasy sports. While some governments have specifically legalised and controlled these sites, it’s possible that others don’t. The legality of fantasy cricket applications in these situations is often decided using the skill vs. chance test established by judicial authorities.

The availability of real money engagement in fantasy cricket applications is another factor to take into account. The majority of fantasy cricket websites let users take part in paid competitions where they may earn cash rewards depending on how well their fictitious teams do. Such paid competitions’ legality has been a source of discussion and interpretation.

Whether an activity is seen as gambling or a game of skill will determine whether or not real money participation is permitted. The platform will probably be regarded as legitimate if it can show that talent outweighs chance. To guarantee legitimacy and safeguard users, platforms must also follow pertinent tax laws, anti-money laundering rules, and assure responsible gaming standards.

What is a skill-based game?

It’s important to understand what a skill-based game is before we continue our investigation into whether fantasy sports are permitted in India. All games that require knowledge of the game, analysis, and talent to win are considered skill-based games. Playing fantasy cricket requires a variety of skills, such as team choosing, player performance analysis, external factor research, and more.

Game of Skill vs Game of Chance

Between “games of skill” and “games of chance,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has recognised a distinction. It is a game of skill when the outcome is mostly dictated by skill, whereas it is a game of chance when the outcome is primarily determined by chance.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which defines all fantasy app firms as publishers and gives SOB (Self Regulatory Bodies) the authority to enact laws, were released by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Games of skill are not considered gambling under most gambling laws, according to the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), the nation’s first and only self-regulatory body for the sports gaming business. As a result, they are lawful to play. In India, fantasy sports are a legal industry that is not covered by the Public Gambling Act of 1867.

However, due to their different state laws, several jurisdictions, including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, and Sikkim, have limitations on these online fantasy games that involve entry fees, cash contests, or cash prizes.

Read More: How do you Make Money in Fantasy cricket?

Criteria to Follow

In its charter, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports outlined the following criteria:

  • Fantasy gaming applications are not allowed for minors.
  • Skill is regarded as the most crucial factor in competitions and is tested while choosing the squad.
  • Users cannot modify their chosen squad once the deadline has passed.
  • At the time of selection, the user must demonstrate their abilities and follow the guidelines outlined in the terms and conditions.
  • Only real-world gamers will be available for the consumers to choose from.
  • Instead of using previous sporting events as the basis for the competition, future sporting events will be used.
  • The ability of members to provide gambling services is limited.

In order to encourage the growth of fantasy gaming apps in India, an SLPC study recommended that clear guidelines on fantasy gaming applications be developed. These guidelines should be centrally managed and applied on a national level.

The Indian government’s think tank, Niti Ayog, concurred with this assessment of SLPC and provided the following guiding concept for online fantasy platforms in India in its discussion paper.

  • The report emphasised the need for games to be skill-based and suggested sending the statistical information to the self-regulatory body.
  • The terms of entering the contest should be open and equitable, and users should get pre-established guidelines as well as a means for filing complaints.
  • Fantasy sports contest advertising and marketing should adhere to the guidelines for advertising set out by the authorised authorities.
  • If all of the aforementioned rules are followed, the state should provide app creators criminal protection.

How much risk do they pose to your Finances?

Fantasy game advertisements explicitly state that there are financial hazards involved. You may have noticed that each of their advertisements ends with the same phrase: “Please play responsibly and at your own risk. This game may involve a level of financial risk.”

Risk levels differ from app to app. However, one can lose their whole admission price on most sites.

To prevent participants from losing money, certain fantasy sports platforms don’t hold tournaments with exceptionally high entry fees. Those who are devoted to the games might come up with fresh strategies to invest a lot, nevertheless. One such workaround is to participate in many competitions using various accounts.

Can players suffer legal consequences if any app is discovered to be illegal?

Only a few applications have had their legality upheld by courts. There are hundreds of these apps that have not been put to the test of the law. There’s a chance that some of them would be breaking the law.

Participants would suffer if legal action were to be taken against these applications.

” Both the service providers and the players will be held accountable if these games are deemed unlawful. Everybody within a physical site that is discovered to have gambling activity is arrested and held accountable, even the property owners.

Legality of Fantasy Cricket Apps: Regulatory Framework

The legality of fantasy cricket applications is further supported by regional regulations and state-specific rules. Several Indian states, such as Karnataka, Nagaland, and West Bengal, have passed laws or released notifications explicitly allowing fantasy sports websites to operate inside their borders.

The All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF) is India’s primary regulatory authority for regulating online gaming and gambling. The AIGF strives to uphold ethical gaming standards, eliminate fraud, and foster fair competition in the sector.

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Protection of consumers and responsible gaming

Several rules and protections have been put in place to protect customers and keep fantasy cricket sites legitimate. Fantasy cricket applications must go by stringent rules, which include age verification procedures, know-your-customer (KYC) standards, and restrictions on the maximum number of entries per competition. These steps are intended to discourage kids from playing and to encourage responsible gaming among users.

Final Word:

Fantasy cricket applications have been widely accepted and lawful in India as a result of being seen as games of skill and having constitutional protection. State laws and regulations from regulatory organisations have further bolstered the popularity of these sites. Although the legality of fantasy cricket applications has been confirmed, it is crucial for players to adopt appropriate gaming habits and make sure they abide by the rules provided by the platforms they use.

Users should get familiar with the legal system and rules unique to their place of residence before engaging in any online activity involving real money.