Supreme Court upholds Dream11 online fantasy sports format as ‘Game of Skill’

 Supreme Court, by its order dated 30 July 2021, has dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) that alleged that the Online Fantasy Sports (OFS) format offered by Dream11 amounted to gambling, wagering and betting and is not a ‘Game of Skill’. SC has once again reaffirmed the judgements passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Bombay High Court, and has upheld the judgment passed by Rajasthan High Court, where the legality of the online fantasy sports format as offered by Dream11 as a ‘Game of Skill’ was sustained. Thus the legality of Dream11’s online fantasy sports format as protected by the Constitution of India, is now final by law and in fact.

While deciding on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the High Court of Rajasthan had declined to entertain it, stating that in the light of orders passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court and Bombay High Court, the matter of gambling has already been put to rest. 

Interestingly, the  High Court of Rajasthan in another PIL (Ravindra Singh Choudhry V State) had reiterated the same stance. The  court went on to narrate certain specific best practices from the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports Federation (FIFS) charter, including the resemblance an OFS contest has with the real-life match, choosing a fantasy sports team that resembles the real world team, the contest running for the full duration of the match, no team changes being allowed after the start of the match, to list a few, as existing in the format offered by Dream11. The order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has once again upheld the format of OFS offered by Dream11.

Dream11 co-founder and CEO Harsh Jain shared, “We are happy that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the Dream11 fantasy sports format. We reiterate our commitment to driving sports engagement through fantasy sports, which brings sports fans closer to the sports they love and helps build a larger sports ecosystem in India.” 

Elaborating on the matter Supreme Court of India senior advocate Gopal Jain said, “The Supreme Court while dismissing the SLP against Rajasthan High Court Order, has emphasized that, with the dismissal of SLPs against orders of Punjab & Haryana and Bombay High Court, the issue of gambling is already decided by it. Simply put, the Fantasy Sports formats which are in line with the analysis of the Punjab & Haryana High Court are games of skill and are legal formats no more open to scrutiny.”

Supreme Court of India advocate on record Mahesh Agarwal, “The Supreme Court has repeated its position and cleared the air that Dream11 Fantasy Sports constitutes a game of ‘skill’ and is not ‘gambling’. By re-affirming its earlier orders on the fantasy sports platform offered by Dream11, it has yet again given its final stamp of approval on the legality of the platform.

Interestingly the Dream11 format of online fantasy sport is based on the format approved by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports Federation, currently the only judicially affirmed and industry-recognised format that is permitted under law. We hope that the online fantasy sports industry continues to abide by the judicial precedents as mentioned above and follow the rules of fair play, ethics and governance established and administered by the FIFS.”