Game of Skill vs Game of Chance

By Pallavi Gangwar · Jun 4, 2021

We all have played a card game at one point of time and there were days when we envied the continuous good cards that our opponents were dealt with. Many of us believed that dealing with the cards is purely dependent on luck or chance.

In fact, in all games in which cards are shuffled and dealt out, there is an element of chance, because the distribution of the cards is not according to any set pattern but is dependent upon how the cards find their place in the shuffled pack. But from this alone it cannot be said that all card games are a game of chance and there is no skill involved in it.

Let us understand some legal provisions regarding Game of Skill and Game of Chance.

Some Statutory Provisions-

Prize Competitions Act, 1955 (“PCA”): The PCA provides for control and regulation of prize competitions. With respect to the PCA’s regulatory ambit, in the case of:

M. D. Chamarbaugwalla v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India said that the games that are predominantly based on skill are excluded from the regulatory purview and penalising terms of the PCA.

This position was reiterated in the case of:

News Television India Ltd. v. Ashok D. Waghmare where the Bombay High Court found the programme ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ to be based around a Game of Skill and not in violation of the PCA as it essentially required a participant to utilise his/her general knowledge and memory to provide answers to questions on various topics such as history, geography, sport, music, politics, cinema, science and technology, etc

Most often we confuse Game of Skill with Game of Chance. As per the honourable Supreme Court of India, a Game of Skill would be where

“success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience, and adroitness of the player and where there exists a substantial degree of a preponderance of skill, despite an element of chance.”

Additionally, in the case of:

Dr KR Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu it was said that

(i) the competition where success depends on a substantial degree of skill is not ‘gambling’ and (ii) despite there being an element of chance if a game is predominantly a game of skill it would nevertheless be a game of ‘mere skill’.

It can be inferred from the above judgements that a Game of Skill do not amount to gambling and can be considered as commercial activities.

In contrast, a Game of Chance depends more on factors like luck and unpredictability of the final outcome of the game and is considered gambling such as Betting, Casinos, Lotteries.

Skill-based games require skills of analytic decision making, strategic thinking quick reaction, good observation, logical abilities and sharp memory. Most Skill-based games, fall into various categories:

Arcade Games

Puzzle and Logic Games

Strategy Games

Sports and Racing

Action Games

Today people see games as a Gainful Entertainment, stress-buster or as an excuse to get a break from their hectic work life. There is always a thrill of competing and winning.

Many games require our undivided attention while others require us to keep track of the events which have happened beforehand. This helps to keep our memory and observation sharp. Some games require us to analyse the probability of certain events taking place and thus hone our decision-making skills.

A player also needs to be calm and cool during the entire duration of the game. A player also should not be discouraged if s/he is unable to win because of lack of chance or skills. Each failure must be seen as an opportunity to learn.

Finally, we may conclude that games teach us the power of perseverance.

No doubt life is also like a game. You never know what cards will you get, but you have to keep playing.

By – Pallavi Gangwar