Decoding the dilemma built around the fulcrum of chance and skill is quite a task.
Both the terms stem from the same branch yet they extend in different directions and are juxtaposed to each other, yet when placed together, they yield miracle.
It’s complicated, right? Gaming in India is gaining popularity, but the law of gambling is a grey area and a topic of debate for years.
Thus the game of chance and game of skill is indeed nothing less than a riddle, on which the legislature and the masses hardly ever agree.
Game of Skill:
We call any play a ‘game of skill’ when a player invests his time learning, practising and honing the skill. Supreme Court has highlighted a game of skill as: “Where the success principally depends upon the superior knowledge, training, experience and adroitness of the player.”
Hence, games of skills are not considered illegal in India as the skill predominates over chance.
Game of Chance:
These games are hugely influenced by factors like luck and unpredictability of the outcome. Supreme Court has ruled, “The outcomes of these are completely uncertain and doubtful.”
Hosting and managing gaming houses are prohibited in most of the states.
Significant Court Verdicts:
The Supreme Court in 1968 tested whether Rummy was a game of skill or game of chance. It held that Rummy does not solely depend on chance and skill is an essential factor.
In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled ‘Horse racing’ a game of skill and not gambling.
Poker established itself as a game of skill in 2013 after police raided a poker room called Hi-5 club. Bangalore High Court later made a historic verdict in favour of the club and termed poker as the game of skill in 2013.
However, different states have still maintained a fuzzy stance maintained over the game of poker.
Patiala House Court ruled in 2015 the sport of cricket requires strategic masterminds and requires hand-eye coordination for throwing, catching and hitting. Game of cricket, therefore, is a game of skill which is exempted under Section 12 of Public Gambling Act, from the definition of gambling.
Lodha committee has also recommended sports betting legalization as one of the vital steps to clean up fixing in sport. The country awaits a Supreme Court verdict which would put a halt to the speculations of sports betting.
So, by collecting the bits of the puzzle one can conclude that that essentially the courts have ruled game of chances illegal on moral grounds, but the games that use skills have been exempted. However, the hazy picture is yet to clear.