Games of Skills
JENGATRON GAMING Private Limited owns and operates the platform 'Millionhere' through which it offers the registered users an opportunity to participate in tournaments of cognitive skill based games for real money and prizes. The platform shall be available on the dedicated app, website and/or other medium and the users may access the platform through any compatible device.
The concept of ‘Millionhere’ is to provide the registered users an opportunity to participate in tournaments consisting of cognitive skill based games by purchasing a ticket and winning real money or prizes.
Millionhere takes great care to comply with Central and State legislations in India to protect users from any legal risk. All the cognitive skill-gaming tournaments for real money and prizes available on the Millionhere platform are carefully designed to comply with applicable statutes and regulations in India.
Games can be broadly classified into the following two categories:
- Games of chance, where the winner is determined entirely by mere luck, the result is wholly uncertain and doubtful and a human being cannot apply his/her mind to estimate the result or his/her efforts to influence the result. Generally, such games are illegal as constituting gambling.
- Games of skill, where, skill plays the dominant role and the result depends primarily upon the relative knowledge, training, attention, experience, and/or adroitness of the players. Such games are not deemed to constitute ‘gambling’ and hence are not prohibited under gambling laws. For a game to be considered a ‘game of skill’ under Indian law, the element of skill must pre-dominate the element of chance in affecting the results of the game. Thus, the extent to which skill is involved in the game is the key factor in the determination of the nature and legality of the game under Indian law.
The principal legislation governing gambling in India is the Public Gambling Act, 1867 ("PGA"). The PGA criminalises the act of ‘public gambling’ and the keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. The PGA, however, creates an important exception in favour of games of skill, by stating that the provisions of the PGA shall not apply to any ‘game of mere skill’ wherever played. Therefore, games of skill have been excluded from the ambit of ‘public gambling’ by the PGA.
Apart from the PGA, several states across India have enacted and implemented State specific laws governing gambling and gaming whereby games of skill have been exempted from the purview of gambling. Where a State law on the subject exists, it takes precedence over the PGA as gaming and gambling is State subject under the Constitution of India. Pertinently, under the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act 2016, ‘Games of Skill’ has been defined under Section 2 (3) as follows:
“Games of skill- shall include all such games where there is preponderance of skill over chance, including where the skill relates to strategising the manner of placing wagers or placing bets or where the skill lies in team selection or selection of virtual stocks based on analyses or where the skill relates to the manner in which the moves are made, whether through deployment of physical or mental skill and acumen.
Explanation: For the purposes of this Act:-
All Games provided in Schedule A of this Act shall fall under the category of “Games of Skill”.
‘Games’ which have been declared or determined to be ‘games of skill’ by Indian or international courts or other statutes, or games where there are domestic and international competitions and tournaments, or games which can be determined to be ‘games of skill’ shall further be entitled to be included in Schedule A.”
Games of skill may be (a) Card based and (b) action / virtual sports / adventure / mystery and (c) calculation / strategy / quiz based.”
In determining whether a given game or tournament is one of skill, Indian courts have adopted the standard that a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. The two most important Indian cases in this regard are State of Andhra Pradesh v. K Satyanarayana (AIR 1968 SC 825) (the “Satyanarayana” case) and KR Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 1996 SC 1153) (the “Lakshmanan” case).
In the Satyanarayana case, the Supreme Court defined a ‘game of mere skill’ to mean a game “in which, although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated, success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player.” By application of this definition, the Supreme Court held that the game of rummy was a game of skill, and did not amount to gambling under the PGA. While upholding the levy of a nominal service charge for provision of a physical space, cards, etc., to play a game of rummy, the Court reasoned:
"15.....Rummy.....requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorised and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of Rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill."
In the Lakshmanan case, the Supreme Court held that the betting on horse races was a game of skill. It rationalised that in a horse race the winner is not determined by chance alone, as the condition, speed and endurance of the horse and the skill and management of the rider are factors affecting the result of the race. The person betting has the opportunity to exercise his judgment and discretion in determining the horse on which to bet.
“29. We have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that the horse-racing is a sport which primarily depends on the special ability acquired by training. It is the speed and stamina of the horse, acquired by training, which matters. Jockeys are experts in the art of riding. Between two equally fast horses, a better trained jockey can touch the winning-post.
30. In view of the discussion and the authorities referred to by us, we hold that the horse-racing is a game where the winning depends substantially and preponderantly on skill.”
In order to achieve success at Millionhere Games/Tournaments/Leagues a player must have the aforementioned knowledge, attention, experience and adroitness. The ‘skill’ element of the Millionhere Games/Tournaments/Leagues is found primarily in two aspects: assessing the visuals/challenges provided in the game and playing accordingly. Users are subject to several carefully structured constraints and limitations in the game rules which minimize the instance of chance dictating the outcome and are required to engage in a qualitative assessment of the challenges and their execution in light of the scoring criteria used by Millionhere.
In order to succeed in the Millionhere Games/Tournaments/Leagues, a player must apply his/her mind and for these reasons, the determination of the outcome in Millionhere Games/Tournaments/Leagues is based on the predominance of skill over chance and it is our belief that the games offered by Millionhere platform are games of skill in the eyes of law. Accordingly, the Millionhere games do not amount to ‘gambling’ under Central and most State gambling statutes in India.
While the States of Nagaland (Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act 2016) and Sikkim, as has been stated above, exempt games of skill from the purview of ‘gambling’, persons intending to run the business of providing skill bases games platforms require a license from the respective State Governments before offering online games. The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 restricts the offering of “online games and sports games” under the licenses issued under the said Act to physical premises of gaming parlors within the geographical boundaries of the state of Sikkim through intranet gaming terminals.
Pertinently, while the PGA and most State statutes exempt games of 'mere skill’ from their purview, certain Indian states classify all games of mixed skill and chance as gambling regardless of whether skill is the predominant factor. In the states of Assam and Odisha, games of mixed chance and skill cannot be played for any monetary consideration. Therefore, we do not offer the Millionhere platform to the residents physically located in the states of Assam and Odisha.