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ED Raids Online Betting App Fairplay for Illegal Cricket Broadcasting

Raids were conducted at multiple offices of the online betting app, Fairplay, by the Enforcement Directorate while investigating the illegal broadcast of IPL, among other allegations of money laundering and betting on election results. Fairplay is a subsidiary of the Mahadev betting app, which was also recently under investigation for money laundering. Arrests related to the app had also been made in Feb 2022 on suspicion of fraud, gambling, and criminal conspiracy under Sections 420, 120-B of the IPC, Section 7 (3) of the Lottery Regulation Act, Sections 3, 4, 13 of the Gambling Act, and 66 (D) of the IT Act.

The present complaint was filed by Viacomm18 Media Pvt. Ltd. for causing a loss of 100 crore because of the illegal broadcast. On investigation, the ED found incriminating documents, digital devices, cash, bank funds, demat account holdings, and luxury watches estimated to be worth INR 8 Crores.  In addition, Fairplay collected funds through a complex network of shell bank accounts that ultimately accumulated in pharmaceutical companies involved in bogus billing. Fairplay was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Copyright Act.

Betting and gambling are strictly prohibited under the Public Gambling Act, 1867, however, online betting platforms have continued to thrive in the garb of skill based gaming. In December 2023, the central government banned 174 betting and gaming apps, including Fairplay and Mahadev. Also, earlier this year, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) issued an advisory to celebrities and influencers to refrain from promoting such illegal activities.