No assurance of protection to be offered to online gaming operators during pendency of petitions: Karnataka govt

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Even as the petitions against the Karnataka Police Amendment Act continue to be heard in the High Court of Karnataka, the State Government on October 27 has refused to give an undertaking that no precipitative action would be initiated on online gaming operators till the court adjudicates the petitions.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit, who is hearing petitions against the new enactment had suggested that the court could take up the petitions for final adjudication instead of hearing an interim plea for stay of implementation of the new law if the Government gave an assurance of not to take precipitative action by the police against the petitioners, who are online gaming operators.

Under the new law on online gaming operators, the state can not promise blanket protection from initiation of criminal proceedings as there to exist games of chance as well, and ‘there are contentious issues over the online version of games of skills compared to their physical format’, State Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi told the court.

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The legitimacy of the State legislature’s powers to ban games of skill in online form was previously challenged by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar saying that they were permitted to be held legal in physical format by the apex court in interpreting the laws on gambling and betting.

Senior Advocate Abhishek M. Singhvi, appearing for one of the petitioners also termed it wrong for the state legislature’s to determine as to what constitutes chance or skill in gaming in an online format and call them illegal when the Supreme Court of India itself had decades ago ruled that games of skill are not synonymous with gambling.

The court finally decided to resume hearing on October 28, restricting the arguments only on the interim plea of the petitioners.