Gaming has been a part of our lives for ages. In Indian history, we can trace back to the tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the particular instance of Yudhishthira betting Draupadi in a game of dice is well known to us and shows that gambling has been a part of society for a long time. Furthermore, the industry of gaming has been evolving since time immemorial, and the period of digitalization saw a rapid growth in the market for gaming. Gaming has evolved from an outdoor and card game to an application available on our desktops and mobile phones during this time of technological advancement.
We can observe the importance of gaming in our lives as being not only a source of entertainment but also one that brings our loved ones together. The fact that we all play games brings into focus the importance of laws related to gaming, so that each player gets fair play and all rules are complied with. Also in gaming, one can see that many games are skill-oriented, whereas others are more accidental or luck-oriented. This bifurcation of games as factors of chance or skill is accordingly dealt with in gaming laws by the Public Gambling Act of 1867.
Gaming is one of the most essential and oldest creations of human life, as evident by monuments, writings, tombs, and other places. In ancient times, we can see that in a few countries, such as China, Rome, Egypt, and others, gamblers could be punished and sometimes even sentenced to forced labor. The origin of gaming is believed to have originated by casting marked sticks and, likewise, other objects that people used to seek knowledge of the future and predict the intentions of God. Later, it was used to bet on the outcome of the objects, and so began gaming across the world. The Bible contains few references to the casting of cards, sticks, and other objects to divide property. When British people came to India, they introduced cricket to Indians and to other colonies of theirs. With time, cricket became quite famous and was played by several countries, and people started betting money on the teams they supported. Other outdoor games also share more or less the same story as cricket, such as basketball, football, hockey, and others.
From the casting of sticks and other objects to the applications of various games on our cell phones, we have come a long way, and each day, scientists and technology-savvy people keep experimenting with new techniques in gaming to make it more advanced and interesting. With such progress, gambling and wagering money in games has increased at a rapid pace, not only in outdoor games and casinos, but also in betting-related e-platforms. At this speed of technical upgradation, we are able to witness new gaming applications from time to time, and to protect the rights of people from any sort of infringement, it is important to keep a check on gaming laws.
Games of Chance and Skill
Games of chance are more luck-based and slightly skill-based, whereas games of skill are more skill-based and slightly luck-based. Therefore, we can see that games of chance are dependent upon probability and it’s mostly uncertain what the end result could be, whereas games of skill are dependent upon our understanding of the game and application of mind. Furthermore, games such as coin tossing, poker, lotteries, horse racing, casinos, and so on and so forth are luck-based, while, on the other hand, games such as chess, puzzles, arcades, card games, and others are skill-based.
In the cases of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana & Others and K.R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, it was held that games wherein success depends upon a chance of luck are to be covered under “gambling” and those games wherein success depends upon skill aren’t to be covered under “gambling”. The High Court of Delhi, Madras, Karnataka, Bombay, and other states have held several cases of betting, online gambling, etc.
The Flipside of the Game
Online gaming has attracted a large audience in recent years and will continue to do so, but this boom may have an impact on players’ mental health as they become addicted to games over time. To fight this addictiveness, we need regulatory legislation and steps by the medical industry, otherwise the monetary rewards will keep attracting the crowds and come at a heavy cost to pay. In the Delhi High Court, a petition was filed by Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd. v. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. to seek directions on the formulation of a policy for the protection of children from online gaming and its addiction.
Several such cases have been filed as children become addicted to gaming and keep playing for hours and hours daily, losing the touch of sanity with time. In recent times, the Blue Whale online game became famous, and the challenges of enumerable tasks were of self-harming, and in the last challenge, the player had to commit suicide. Across the country, many suicides were committed and it alarmed everyone. Other than the Blue Whale game, PUB-G addiction has been on the rise in our country, especially since the COVID-19 lockdown. It is a fact that online gaming addiction is an under-researched area and only a few studies have been conducted in this area. This makes it all the more vital for us to do a deep study on this subject.
In the case of Ludo
Recently, many game developers have brought ample versions of the game Ludo to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, but all of them are strictly for entertainment purposes only with no consideration of monetary rewards. But recently, an application by the name Ludo Supreme App was built by a private company called Cashgrail Private Limited for real money. For this application, called “Ludo Supreme App,” a petition was filed in the Bombay High Court to seek ludo’s being a game of chance and not of skill, and henceforth the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 should be applied if the game is played for stakes.
As mentioned in the above paragraphs, gaming was initially just for the purpose of entertainment, but with time, we started betting and wagering. Today, all across the globe, gambling is practised in enumerable sorts of games, and it has now become a tool to convert black money into white and for money laundering. To combat all of these wrongdoings, India passed the Public Gambling Act of 1867, which dealt with numerous cases, some of which were successful and others of which were difficult to resolve.
Furthermore, we saw that gambling is neither a pure game of chance nor a pure game of skill, but rather falls somewhere in the middle and is heavily reliant on luck rather than skill. But the flip side of gaming is depression and addiction, which few players face with time. To combat this, we need to look at the addiction of gaming and research this issue in depth. Lastly, the case of Ludo, filed in the Bombay High Court, points out the legal institutions and government’s ability to bifurcate games into the categories of luck or skills thoughtfully. We also need to keep a check on the development of gaming and its impact on players.
Author(s) Name: Parul Thadani (Fergusson College, Savitribai Phule Pune University)
 Public Gambling Act, 1867.
 K.R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1996 (2) SCC 226.
 State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana & Ors, AIR 1968 SC 825.
 Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd. v. Hindustan Unilever Limited, 2008 (38) PTC 139 (Del).
 K.R Muley v. State of Maharashtra, 2021, Cr Apl No. 440/2021.
 Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.