In this post, we will discuss about the case where the Bombay HC has to decide whether the game of Ludo is a game of chance or a skill.
Facts of the case: A petition was filed on November 3rd 2020 before Girgaon police station by MNS office bearer Mr. Keshav Ramesh Muley against Cashgrail Private Limited, the company that owns the Ludo Supreme app. This petition was filed indicating that the app promotes gambling. This petition seeks a declaration that ludo is a game of chance and not a game of skill. The petitioner had approached the local police in November 2020 against the makers of the game; Cashgrail Private Ltd under the section 4 of Gambling Act as well sections 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code. The police, however, refused to register a case; following which he approached the local Metropolitan Court but it also rejected his private complaint saying that it was a “game of skill and not a game of chance”.
Legal Issue: Whether the game of Ludo is a game of chance or a game of skill. The petition was filed under the section 4 of Gambling Act as well sections 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code.
Legal Opinion: According to the facts of the case, it is seen that ludo is a game of chance as the Ludo supreme app claimed that it is an easy way of earning money with an assurance that one would only win money and not lose any with this app. The petitioner downloaded the app and claimed to have found that one could play the game by betting money; bank account could be linked to the application and money could be deposited with the application’s electronic wallet; it could be played in online mode with Rs 5 as “entry fees” per player and offline mode with one player acting as a host; player winning the game would take all the money put in by the rest of the players and a certain amount would get deducted by the application. The petition alleges that the application surreptitiously refers to the money that can be bet as “entry fees.” “The prize money is not some notional or fictional winning but is real-time currency of value. It is also noted that it appears no player has control over what the dice rolls out, the app and algorithm used by it having a possible control over the roll of the dice cannot be disregarded and needs investigation.
Decision of the court: The case is not decided yet as Justices Abhay Anand and S S Shinde issued a notice seeking a reply from the Maharashtra Government by June 22nd on the plea seeking the declaration that “Ludo is a game of chance and not a game of skill.
Conclusion: The app qualifies as a “common gaming house” under the Gambling Act and therefore is liable to be prosecuted under the relevant provisions. It adds that the fact that the makers of the game are retaining a certain amount with themselves shows that they are making profits from the players, which too qualifies as an offence under the Gambling Act. Also given the impact the Ludo Supreme App has on the youth of the country given the evils of gambling and social menace caused by it, it is urged that the police should take action as soon as possible.
One cannot completely discount the possibility of a 3-year old winning while playing the game of Ludo against any other person and thus it is not a game of mere skill but a game of chance and therefore provision of Gambling Act are applicable. Therefore there is no element of skill and there is a predominance of chance.
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