The Bombay High Court recently quashed a First Information Report (FIR) lodged against Wingame Enterprises proprietor booked for gambling’ under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 [Akshay Anant Matkar vs State of Maharashtra].
A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and MM Sathaye quashed the FIR lodged against Akshay Matkar observing that the game is one of skill and not chance and thus does not come within the ambit of ‘gambling’.
The game comprises Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) on geometrical and mathematical problems.
The bench examine the game’s user manual which indicated that a player is required to solve mathematical quizzes based on different combinations for geometric figures, which are assigned specific values and based on the equations, a mathematical answer is to be found and the answer is to be given in the form of MCQs.
“After the activity is carried out in time bound manner, the player advances in the stages of the game. From the perusal of the examples given in the manual, as well as the model answer sheet in which points are calculated on the basis of answer to various Quizzes, we are of the considered opinion that this online game is not game of chance but there is mathematical skill involved. Apart from said skill, observation and ability to solve mathematical equations within time bound manner is also required, which definitely requires skills,” the bench observed in its order passed on March 30 but made available on Thursday
From the FIR in question lodged on November 15, 2022, the bench noted that a raid was conducted by the police in a public place in Satara district, where money was being collected by one Satish Botalji from customers, based on the numbers that were being reflected on the computer. The police contended that Botalji had no licence to run an online gaming or gambling game and thus violated provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.
“In our view, the present online game stands on better footing and the it is definitely preponderantly a game of skill and therefore, it cannot be said from mere averments in the FIR that any offence was committed under the said Act,” the bench held.
The bench further said that the online gaming does not includes ‘wagering or betting’ as mandated for a game to come within the definition of ‘gambling.’
“Therefore, in our view with the allegations in the FIR as they stand, if the Petitioners are made to face trial, it will be an abuse of process of law, since no offence is made out as alleged in the facts and circumstances of the case,” the bench said while quashing the FIR in question.
Advocate Rushikesh C Barge appeared for the Petitioner.
Additional Public Prosecutor KV Saste represented the State.