Is ‘Ludo’ a game of chance or skill? Bombay High Court seeks Maharashtra government response on plea claiming online Ludo game is gambling

The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought the response of the Maharashtra government on a plea seeking a declaration that “Ludo is a game of chance and not a game of skill”.

The petition filed by Keshav Ramesh Muley, a senior office bearer of political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, also sought registration of case against Cashgrail Private Limited, which owns the mobile application “Ludo Supreme App”, on the ground that it promotes gambling.

It was Muley’s contention that the provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling (MPG) Act applies to the game if it is being played for stake.

He submitted that a possibility of a 3-year-old winning the game could not be discounted and, hence, Ludo cannot be considered a game of mere skill but is a game of chance.

A Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Abhay Ahuja on Thursday issued notice returnable on June 22, 2021 when the petition came up for hearing.

Muley had, initially, approached the Girgaon police station with a complaint against Cashgrail.

However, since the police refused to lodge a First Information Report (FIR), Muley filed a complaint under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) at Girgaon, Mumbai seeking investigation into his complaint.

His complaint enumerated facts constituting offences under Section 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code and under MPG Act.

The ACMM rejected the application observing that the provisions of MPG Act will not apply as “the game of Ludo is a game of skill and not a game of chance”.

Muley then approached the High Court through advocate Nikhil Mengde assailing the order through the present petition.

Muley contended that he had discovered that players could play by betting money in the game.

The format of the game was similar to the original board game format. However, the difference on the mobile application was that an entry fee is required to be paid before the game commenced.

Muley claimed that the rolling of dice and value rolled is entirely controlled by the application and algorithm used by it.

Muley also raised grievance against the posting of the videos of the game on online platform like YouTube towards promotion of the application as that amounts to soliciting the activity of gambling.

The petition also prayed for FIR to be registered on the complaint filed against the persons involved in the operation and management of Ludo Supreme App.

Alternatively, the petition prayed that the matter be remanded back to the Magistrate court for reconsideration of his criminal application.

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