Why horse race betting is considered a game of skill and cricket is not

Sports betting in India has always been clouded by controversies and lack of clarity. One of the biggest confusion has been whether a particular sport is considered a game of skill or chance and why betting on a few games is considered to be legal while betting on others is not permitted by the law.

The line between games of chance and games of skills is extremely thin and sometimes it becomes challenging to categorize these sports.

The big difference

According to the Indian law, the difference between games of chance and games of skill defines whether it is legal to bet on a sport or not.

The main difference between a game of skill and a game of chance is who the player is playing against: when a player is playing against the house, it is considered a game of chance. When the player is pitted against other players, it is considered as a game of skill.

A game of skill is when the player invests his/her time in learning, practising and mastering a skill. The Supreme Court noted that games of skill would be one in which “success depends primarily upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player”. Indeed, most sports are a combination of skill and chance, but skill has to be the predominant factor in these games.

Games of chance depend more on factors like luck and unpredictability of the final outcome of the game. Per Supreme court, in these cases, the results are “wholly uncertain and doubtful”.

Horse Race Betting vs. Cricket Betting

In a horse race, horses are merely trying to win the race. They are not pitted against each other. Further, it is possible to train horses and it is therefore considered as a game of skill. Horse racing betting is considered legal and is regulated under 6 turf clubs in India.


On the other hand, cricket is not considered as a game of skill. The main reason for this is that two teams in a cricket match are playing against each other. A school of thought is lobbying to brand cricket as a game of skill.

They believe that winning a cricket match has a lot to do with strategy and the ability to play the sport well. A clear stance from the Supreme Court on this topic is long pending and still awaited.

Indeed, the battle over which games are skilled based games and which ones are not will go on for quite some time till a proper method of resolving this issue is thought of. Moreover, experts advise that it is high time to regulate the online gambling industry in the interest of betting enthusiasts and the economy at large.


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