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Karnataka state to ban games of chance, online and offline

September 23 2021: The Karnataka  assembly passed by voice vote  on September 21, an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act 1953 that will ban  “games of chance”.    The government has threatened to   deal with those who run  games of  chance, in the guise of games of skill.  Further the Chief Minister said games of skill which risk the player losing money will also also attract provisions of the law which prescribe a maximum imprisonment of three years or fine of up to Rs one lakh ( Rs 100,000) for any violation.
The ‘Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, states “games means and includes online games, involving all forms of wagering or betting, including in the form of tokens valued in terms of the money paid before or after the issue of it, or electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of chance.”
However, it does not include lottery or wagering or betting on horse races run on any race course within or outside the state.
The Bill, in its statement of objects and reasons, says that “it is considered to amend the 1953 Police Act to provide for enforcement of provisions of the Act, by making offences under certain sections as cognizable offence and non-bailable, except Section 87 (gaming in public streets), which is made cognizable and bailable.It will include the use of cyberspace, including computer resources or any communication device as defined in Information Technology Act, 2000 in the process of gaming, to curb the menace of gaming through internet and mobile apps.
It said the punishment for the first offence would be six months imprisonment and fine of Rs 10,000, for the second, one year imprisonment and fine of Rs 15,000, and for the third offence, 18 months imprisonment and fine of Rs 20,000. Persons aiding or abetting such online gaming would also be punished.
Tamil Nadu court struck down similar law; Kerala upheld it
The move comes even as a Tamil Nadu law to this effect was struck down by the Madras High Court last month.
Earlier this year, Kerala prohibited online rummy games under the purview of the Kerala Gaming Act. When a  Bangalore company challenged it, the Kerala High Court refused to stay the ban. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Nagaland and Sikkim have put a ban on online rummy
Telangana is also planning new rules for online and fantasy gaming, which will focus on self-regulation as well as game development. Read PTI report in  Economic Times on these developments.
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.   (HinduBusinessLine)

  • In a separate report we  reflect industry and analyst responses to the Karnataka ban.
  • Safety in gaming tips  from CyberPeace here