Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) first began in India in 2001 when ESPN Star Sports ran their very popular ‘Super Selector’ online fantasy game. The game was free to enter, with the best players receiving prizes. The maiden contest in 2001 had in excess of 500,000 players and just two years later, during the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the site was shut down as it failed to cope with the huge volume of traffic generated.
While the game died down over the next decade, it has roared back to life in a big way over the last three years. But is Daily Fantasy Sports legal in India?
In 2017 the Indian high court presided over a complaint which suggested that DFS was outright gambling. They decided that fantasy sports were much more than gambling, or games of luck. Instead they ruled that DFS was indeed a game of skill, because the participants had to “continually track player activity, sporting events, previous records, weather and other factors” in order to be successful at the game.
Players need to “continually track player activity, sporting events, previous records, weather and other factors” in order to be successful at the game.
Gambling itself is illegal in India, hence the court case. However the decisions by the courts has seemingly opened the door for the Daily Fantasy Sports sites to open up all over the country with fantasy gaming platforms excused from provisions of Public Gambling Act of 1867. Because of a few particular local laws, the states of Assam, Odisha, Telangana and Gujarat are not permitted to partake in paid fantasy leagues.
The decision by the Indian courts mirrors a similar situation in the United States, whereby it was ruled that Fantasy Sports require more skill than luck, therefore meaning they are not acts of gambling.
So to conclude, Daily Fantasy Sports are legal in India, as they are considered a game of skill and not a form of gambling.