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Karnataka Online Gaming Ban: High Court to pronounce decision on Monday

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The parties in the petitions challenging the Karnataka online gaming ban law concluded the oral arguments before the High Court on 22 December 2021. The petitioners include gaming companies, individuals, and industry bodies. The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, notified on October 5 makes all forms of gaming for stakes, including online, a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

The petitioners include gaming companies Mobile Premier League, Games24x7, Gameskraft, Head Digital Works Private Ltd, and Junglee Games along with industry bodies like All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS). The case which was initially listed before a single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit was later transferred to a division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit.

The matter came up for hearing for the first time on 22 October 2021 and was listed on 12 days in total. A battery of senior advocates Dr. Abhishek Singhvi, Mukul Rohatgi, Gopal Jain, Sajan Poovayya, DLN Rao, Arvind Datar, and CA Sundaram appeared in the matter.

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The petition which was initially listed only for interim relief was heard for final arguments based on the concurrence of all the parties involved. The petitioners relied on the recent judgments of Madras and Kerala High Court and also decades-old cases like RMB Chamarbaugwala, State of Andhra Pradesh vs. K. Satyanarayana. The Advocate General (AG) appearing for the government tried to differentiate between the earlier decisions and the present facts. The AG argued that games of skill would lose their nature when the public at large is invited.

Now it has been nearly 50 days since the last day of the arguments and everyone is early waiting for the decision of the High Court. The matters are now listed before the special bench for pronouncement of the decision on 14 February 2022. Whichever party loses is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.

This is a developing story.

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