Karnataka Assembly passes bill banning online ‘gambling’


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bangalore: The Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday passed by vote an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act 1963, which seeks to ban online “gambling”. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the bill does not ban online games that strictly conform to the features of “games of skill”.

The government, however, will deal with operators and accomplices who run games of chance disguised as games of skill, the chief minister said. Even those games of skill that involve the risk of the player losing money would invite action under the law, he said.

The Chief Minister, responding to a question from Sharath Bachegowda (Hoskote), said foreign online gambling operators cannot have freedom if their local operators are arrested and punished. This is how the government has successfully tackled the matka threat, he said.

Interior Minister Araga Jnanendra asked the House to pass the bill. It defines online gaming comprehensively, captures the latest technological advancements, and mentions all types of electronic items, including cell phones, computers, and tablets, to ensure that there are no shortcomings. It defines prohibited online gambling as “any act or risk of money…on the unknown outcome of an event, including a game of skill”.

The bill makes most offenses, such as operating such games, sheltering such operations, and aiding and abetting such online games, both recognizable and non-releasable. It proposes a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, for offenders.

But Congressman and former IT minister Priyank Kharge said the bill did not properly reflect the distinction between games of skill and games of chance. In a tweet, he said the government needed to be more specific and identify games that encourage betting. The government should form a committee with industry stakeholders and come up with a law that restricts online betting instead of a bill that will not stand the test of the law, he said. .

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Earlier this year, Kerala banned online rummy games through the Kerala Gaming Act. A Bengaluru-based company challenged this, but the Kerala High Court refused to lift the ban.

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