Gaming & Gambling
Skill-Gaming in India
Games of Mere Skill A “game of skill” is one where success depends principally upon superior knowledge, training, attention, experience, adroitness, personal attributes and capabilities of the player. It is a game in which, while the element of chance cannot be entirely ruled out, it is the element of skill on the part of the participants that plays a dominant role in determining the outcome of the game. Games of skill are identified as a separate category because various states in India (excluding Assam and Orissa, Telangana) have codified gambling acts that exclude games of skill from the ambit of gambling. The popular online games in India that have been recognized as games of skill include Horse Racing, Rummy and Fantasy Sports.
Rummy- Indian Card Game
There are many different card games played in the world, but rummy is one of the most popular. There are several different formats of the game, such as Canasta and basic rummy. However, these formats are all based on the same basic concept: collecting melds. A meld is a run of cards, which can be either sets of three or four cards of the same rank, or three or more sequential cards in the same suit. Skill in Rummy is displayed in the activity of memorizing discarded cards and mentally estimating the probability of obtaining useful cards from the closed deck or the recent discard. This engaging aspect of game play in rummy is the skill required to win the game and is therefore a very popular competitive game among millions of gamers in India and abroad. This format of skill games is dominated by 4-5 major operators who have been operating for more than 5 years.
Fantasy sports games are games which involve users drafting fantasy teams based on certain conditions from a list of players scheduled to play live games on a given day. The users pay an entry fee to enter a contest and it is pooled in for distribution among the users (“Entry Pool”) after deduction of a service/administrative fee by fantasy sports games providers. The users draft their teams based on their application of knowledge (gathered through systematic research), attention, experience and adroitness regarding the relevant sport. Based on the performance of the players selected by the user to draft his/her team, the user collects points. The users are ranked based on the points their selected players accumulate throughout the contest as per their on-field actions and scoring metrics for the contests. The various games offered by Fantasy sport operator in India includes Cricket, Football, Basketball and Kabbadi. This format of game is seeing a lot of new entrants but the format is currently dominated by one of the major operator in this space.
Horse Racing ( Offline and Online)
Most states have adopted the Public Gambling Act 1867 with an amendment pertaining to horse racing, whereby it has been specifically excluded. Horse racing and betting on horse racing has been classified as a game of skill by the Supreme Court. Therefore, it is also permitted in licensed premises.
Putting money down on horses is a skill, and are therefore not subject to gambling laws. Likewise, to the best of our knowledge, there are no laws stopping people from placing horse racing bets with online wagering sites based abroad. From Hyderabad to America’s Kentucky Derby to England’s St. Leger Stakes and even the Japan Cup, there are many events for Indians to bet on their favourite sport via the web.
Online Game of Skills
There is no specific definition of online gambling under the state enactments. However, skill-based or preponderantly skill based games can be played online in all states except the states of Telangana, Assam and Odisha. Furthermore, in the State of Nagaland, these games can be played only on websites that are licensed by the State of Nagaland.
The following are the card based games regulated by the respective government:
State of Nagaland: Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games Skill Act 2015 covers Poker, Rummy, Nap, Bridge, etc.
State of West Bengal: The West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competition Act 1957 covers Poker, Rummy, Nap, etc