Industry appeals Karnataka high court against online gambling law

All Indian Gaming Federation (AIGF), Mobile Premier League, Games24x7, Gameskraft and Head Digital Works Private Limited have filed writ petitions in the Karnataka High Court against the State’s online gambling law.

All five petitions were filed on Thursday, October 7. The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act, 2021, which was notified on October 5, banned all formats of online gaming that involves an entry fee or registration fee.

Also see: Karnataka passes bill banning online ‘game of chance’

The law read, “gaming means and includes online games, involving all forms of wagering or betting, including in the form of tokens valued in terms of money paid before or after issue of it, or electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of chance, but does not include a lottery or wagering or betting on horse-race run on any race course within or outside the State, when such wagering or betting takes place.”

Other States

Roland Landers, CEO, AIGF, had indicated earlier this week that the industry will challenge the law in court and seek legal recourse.

“As the apex industry body, we have notified our member companies to block Karnataka in accordance with the law. Needless to say this burgeoning sunrise industry — our legitimate online skill gaming businesses, game developers and publishers — will be impacted. Several pro gamers livelihoods will also be negatively impacted. We must remember that the Madras HC had recently struck down a similar act that tried to stop online skill gaming in the state,” Landers had said in a statement.

Also see: HC quashes Kerala Govt’s ban on Online Rummy

Following various State regulations, online games operating in formats like online fantasy sports (OFS) and online rummy have had to prove skill predominance in their respective formats. In the past, States like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Nagaland and Sikkim have put a ban on online rummy. However, a similar ban did not pass in Tamil Nadu where the high court has held that online rummy involves high dominance of skills and thus cannot be considered as gambling, even when played with stakes.

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