Strict anti-gaming law to protect the poor – Karnataka CM

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Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said that his Government has enacted a strict law against online gaming and gambling with the sole objective of protecting the health and peace of mind of poor families. The CM was speaking at the Police Commemoration Day at Old CAR Grounds in Hubballi as first reported by The Hindu.

He said that the stringent law has been brought in to prevent young persons from taking the extreme step after losing all their money in online games. The law facilitated strict action against gambling clubs too, he said.

The meeting was attended by Chairman of Legislative Council Basavaraj Horatti, Minister Shankar Patil Munenakoppa, Member of Legislative Assembly Prasad Abbayya, Deputy Commissioner of Dharwad Nitesh Patil, Additional Director-General of Police Pratap Reddy, Inspector-General of Police Alok Kumar, South Western Railway General Manager Sanjeev Kishore and others who placed wreaths at the police memorial to pay tributes to police martyrs.

Last month, IndiaTech, an industry body representing start-ups like Dream11, MPL, Zupee among others, has addressed a letter to the chief minister seeking clarification on whether the bill amendments will be applicable to online skill-based gaming and sports.

We have requested the Chief Minister and Home Minister to immediately issue necessary statements to ensure the right signals go to the startup and investment community. Multiple court orders have well established the legality around games of skills, even where money is involved and therefore should not be construed as gambling or betting or wagering,” Ramesh Kailasam, CEO, was then quoted in media reports. It is not clear if India Tech had received any response so far on the letter.

A total of six petitions are filed before Karnataka High Court so far challenging the amendment. Two petitions are listed today (October 22) for hearing.

Meanwhile, another public interest litigation has been 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, a self-regulatory industry body. The petitioner Saahil Nalwaya who has filed a similar petition before Rajasthan High Court has now sought to make it a criminal offence under the Karnataka Police Act. This petition got recently numbered.

The Nalwaya petition is also listed today before a division bench comprising of Chief Justice and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum as item no. 18.