Karnataka Gaming Ban: No arrests, for now, tells High Court

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A PIL filed before the Karnataka High Court seeking to prohibit the offering and playing of fantasy sports that are compliant with the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) charter, came up for hearing today before a bench comprising of the Chief Justice and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum. The petitioner Saahil Nalwaya who has filed a similar petition before Rajasthan High Court has now sought to make playing fantasy games a criminal offence under the Karnataka Police Act (KPA).

In another courtroom, petitions filed by the industry body AIGF and real money gaming company Mobile Premier League challenging the recent amendments to KPA that prohibited all kinds of gaming for stakes came up for hearing. The amendments came into effect on October 5.

Senior Advocate Aravind P. Datar appeared for AIGF before the single judge bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit. Acceding to the request of Mr. Datar, the High Court directed the Advocate General appearing on behalf of the state government not to make arrests under the amendment that is challenged by at least five gaming firms and AIGF.

Earlier this month, the Bengaluru Police filed an FIR against Dream11 cofounders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth for continuing operations in the State. Later, Dream11 shut operations on October 10 citing safety concerns of the users. Further, a case was also filed against online rummy portal SilkRummy with Cottonpet Police, a report by The Hindu said. The case by AIGF will be heard along with petitions filed by other gaming companies on October 27.

Meanwhile, the lawyer appearing for Nalwaya sought 1 week time to remove office objections which was granted. This matter is likely to be listed on December 4. Even after notifying amendments to the KPA, “the respondent no.1 (Karnataka government) had not prohibited the offering and playing of these online fantasy sports compliant with the charter of the respondent no. 2,” reads the petition filed by Nalwaya which has been uploaded by FIFS on its website. Incidentally, all major gaming companies that abide by the FIFS charter have shut shop in Karnataka after notification of the amendments.