IPL (Indian Premier League) is one of the most famous Indian events and one of the biggest revenue earning platforms for the BCCI. Due to Covid-19, The Board of Control of Cricket in India(BCCI) decided to conduct IPL in UAE this year instead of cancelling the event and thereby averted a loss of approximately 4000 crores. A large number of spectators and a large number of sponsors is an essential characteristic of this cricket affair. Moreover, the tournament of 2020 is exclusive and gaining popularity for several reasons. Entertainment as well as safety, must go hand-in-hand. Thus, several features make IPL 2020 unique from those before.
1. Not in India but UAE
India is one of the most populated countries in the world. Owing to the pandemic and its rise in India, controlling the crowd in the country is a bit difficult and managing all the safety norms with such a huge crowd. Due to which, the event is taking place in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). Franchises are staying in different hotels, and maintenance of electronic team sheets is going on. Social distance in the dressing rooms and virtual meetings are the primary feature of this game. Besides, team doctors ensure bio-secure guidelines are an essential aspect of the tournament.
Reasons for conducting IPL in UAE: BCCI is the richest cricketing body in the world, one of the biggest reasons behind its financial strength is the IPL. BCCI gets a whopping INR 3300 crore from the media rights holder(Star TV) per year for the IPL. Cancelling the IPL amidst pandemic could have resulted in a huge financial loss. The league also has many sponsorship deals and these earn BCCI about Rs. 170 crore. Hosting the IPL in UAE came as the last resort for the BCCI and definitely at a price. Thereby, BCCI averted a financial crisis for the Indian economy.
2. No Swarms in the Stadiums
As per the new norms of IPL 2020, crowds are banned in the stadiums. The legislations are emphasizing digital platforms for broadcasting rather than gathering in the sports ground. For holding up the new trend of social distancing, OTT platforms, radio, as well as other methods of broadcasting are being emphasized. Cricket fans can enjoy the match on television and their smartphone. IPL 2020 will be broadcasted and streamed live in almost 120 countries. Star India, the official broadcaster and global rights holder of IPL has got into arrangements with broadcasters worldwide and other online streaming platforms to showcase the 13th season of IPL. It is also going to be broadcasted in 9 different languages.
3. Keep a Social Distance
The BCCI has listed down many norms about safety so that the tournament is conducted safely. Tests regularly are an essential feature of the event to mitigate the risk of contagious disease. Players will be allowed to train and compete only if they have normal temperature and health status questionnaires. Players are advised to maintain social distance even on the field of play. Printed sheets have been replaced with electronic team sheets to the captains. The safety protocols include social distancing among the franchises right from the point they board the planes to the final ball in the Arabian country.
4. Saliva Denied on Balls
As per the latest legislation of the ICC, players cannot put saliva on balls to shine them in the wake of the pandemic. The change in playing regulations is because of the diseases spreading at a global level. Moreover, the new rules emphasize the replacement of players if they do not feel well.
Bio-bubble is an environment sealed off from the outside world to avoid the risk of contraction of coronavirus. The players, coaches and other staff are not allowed to interact with people outside the bubble. In case there is a breach of the biosecurity protocol, they will be punished under the IPL code of conduct. IPL 2020 has eight teams staying in different hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Players need to travel every day to practice and they will travel isolated. The bio-bubble of IPL is dissimilar to that of the previous ones. It is so because in Caribbean Premier League, players, as well as staff, stayed in the same hotel. Similarly, NBA and England's bio-bubble was also unlike IPL 2020, thus making the tournament unique.
- New Title Sponsors and Partners
Due to the India and China standoff, IPL has got Unacademy, the largest learning platform of India, as a partner of IPL 2020. BCCI's five year deal with VIVO in 2018 was suspended due to the ongoing tensions between the two countries. IPL governing body has replaced VIVO with Dream11 for the title sponsor of IPL 2020 amid the tensions of Indo-China border. The money from the sponsorship holds huge importance for the BCCI.
The legality of betting in IPL in India
As per the Public Gambling Act, 1867 betting or gambling is illegal in India, but there is no specific law that makes online betting an illegal activity in India. Many betting companies are using this loophole to lure Indians into betting. Online betting is a booming business with transactional values of thousands of crores. Some websites claim that they don't take bets but help get in touch with international bookmakers. It is established that bookmakers in India are illegal, but there is no law which specifies that placing a bet online using a bookmaker from outside India is illegal. It is difficult to catch gambling offenders in India if the servers of the websites are located offshore where online gambling is a legal activity.
As we all know, Dream 11 is the title sponsor for IPL 2020. BCCI's association of Dream 11 for IPL 2020 is flaming with criticism. Reasons for it could be that Dream 11 is under investigation for being allegedly linked to a fake T20 league. In addition to it, the legality of Dream 11 has been questioned in the courts several times. The first case against Dream 11 was filed in Punjab & Haryana High Court in 2017, where the court recognised that fantasy sport was a game of skill and thereby did not amount to gambling. In 2019 a PIL was filed in Bombay High Court contending that online gaming by Dream 11 has components of chance of being involved with illegal betting/gambling in the name of fantasy sports and also were accused of evasion of GST by wrongfully classifying itself under entry 998439 and thereby paying only 18% rather than 28%. However Bombay High Court quashed the PIL and stated that fantasy online sports does not amount to gambling or better since it is a game of skill. Subject to the matters of tax evasion, courts said that Dream 11 was taxed correctly as online games are intended to be played on the internet with a subscription or pay per play fees. There was another PIL filed in Rajasthan High Court in February 2020, where the court reiterated the decision of Punjab & Haryana High Court and Bombay High Court. Courts have ultimately stated that fantasy games are a game of skill and therefore as of now there cannot be any question on the legality of Dream 11.
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Legality of E-sports
Esports is a world of competitive organized gaming. It is a platform where players play games on a computer or on a gaming system, whereas the fans watch it and wager on who will win. Esports has gained popularity globally as well as in Indian platforms. But Esports has very distinctive features of its own and it's quite different from that of traditional sports which is linked religiously. It is the result of western culture and technological advancements. It is booming in India with a lot of users amongst the youth population and owing to its rapid expansion, it has brought the need of legal aspects in question.
In India, E-sports is governed by the Esports Federation of India(ESFI). ESFI is also a member of the International Esports Federation(IESF) and the Asian Electronic Sports Federation(AESF) and thereby this membership mandates the Indian Esports players to adhere to the same standards of conduct as laid out by these international bodies. Esports is not yet recognised as a sport in India as that of traditional sports and despite ESFI being the sole governing body for Esports it hasn't been entitled to be a National Sports Federation(NSF). It is to be noted that ESFI has not been recognised by the Indian Olympic Association nor the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Esport players are not recognised as athletes as that of traditional sports. If the Government recognises the players of Esports as athletes it would provide certainty and security to professional players.
The rise of Esports also paves a way for all the legalities. One such legality would be under Contract law. Players, tournament leaders, teams, owners, sponsors will have to draft, negotiate and sign contracts. Without the existence of proper infrastructure, it could lead to contract fiascos. Therefore, it is imperative for the legal fraternity to look into such legalities and avoid any exploitation of the players. Another legality closely linked to Esports is the presence of Intellectual Property Rights. There are no direct provisions related to Intellectual Property Rights of Esports, but there is the existence of a basic legal framework. With the advancement in the field of Esports, there is a dire need for a separate legislative mechanism to address the issues and cater to the needs of Esports.
Laws related to Broadcast and Telecast
The technological advancements over the years has paved the way for different broadcasting laws. The earliest law pertaining to the wireless and radio broadcasting was the Telegraph Act, 1885. This Act is age old and fails the test of time. To overcome the issues which were not covered by this Act, The Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933 was enacted. Initially broadcasting was confined only to radio, but over the course of years with more technological advancements and with the addition of Television, there was need for reforming the broadcasting laws in India. In view of this, the Prasar Bharti(Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 was brought into place. Broadcasting services in India include Cable Tv, DTH services, Doordarshan, Internet Protocol Television, Radio etc,.
The right of free speech and expression as envisaged in Article 19(I)(a) of the Indian Constitution has evolved and adapted itself to keep up with the pace of technological advances. The freedom of speech and expression granted under Article (19)(I)(a) extends to all kinds of communication and expression which includes broadcasting rights. It cannot be curtailed unless under the circumstances set out in Article 19(2). Right to broadcast was recognised in the case LIC v. Manubhai D. Shah Doordarshan refused to telecast a documentary film based on the Bhopal gas disaster titled Beyond Genocide on various grounds. This act was challenged and the Supreme Court held that Doordarshan being a State-controlled agency that depended on public funds was not entitled to deny the telecast of the film or that of documentary except on the grounds specified in Article 19(2).
In February 1995, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt of India v. Cricket Association of Bengal also known as the Hero Cup case, where it directed the establishment of an autonomous broadcasting authority to control and regulate the broadcast media. It was also held in this case that broadcasting is a means of communication and a medium of free speech and expression within the meaning of Article 19(I)(a). This case involved the rights of a cricket association to grant the telecast rights to an agency of its choice. The Supreme court held that while limiting the right of the telecaster on one hand is important it is also essential to uphold the right of the viewer to receive information and entertainment through the broadcasting media.
Further, to provide free access to the consumers, on a free-to-air basis, of sporting events that are of national importance, The Sports Broadcasting Signals(Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharti) Act, 2007 was enacted. This Act makes it mandatory to share the sports broadcasting signals with Prasar Bharati and on the condition that reportage would be in the pre-existing news format without any advertisements. There have been many debates on the role of BCCI and its monopoly in the field of cricket.
The decision in Shiv Cable TV System v. State of Rajasthan, paved the way for a legislation on cable networks. Cable Television Networks(Regulation) Act, 1995 provided a legal basis to regulate cable networks and some accountability from cable operators.
These are some of the broadcast and telecast laws existing in India. In light of the recent rapid technological developments, broadcasting has certainly outpaced the laws in the Country. Due to the pandemic, we can now enjoy IPL on online platforms. As Star India is the official broadcaster of the IPL 2020, they have gotten into arrangements and contracts with broadcasters worldwide to showcase IPL 2020, so that the audience have a hassle free experience. IPL 2020 is being organized in a completely new way. Further, changes are expected in our daily lifestyle because of the virus. If you love cricket, the best part is you can still enjoy it from your home. However, you might miss those gatherings and hooting.
 Media Release, ICC, https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/1679360#:~:text=The%20International%20Cricket%20Council%20(ICC,home%20umpires%20in%20international%20series.&text=Ban%20on%20applying%20saliva%20to,saliva%20to%20shine%20the%20ball.
 (1992) 3 SCC 637: AIR 1991 SC 171
 (1995) 2 SCC 161: AIR 1995 SC 1236
 AIR 1993 Raj 197