Karnataka HC allows betting on online skill games, calls state ban unconstitutional

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High Court of Karnataka (Image courtesy of IANS)

By line : Abhimanyu Sharma

New Delhi: In a relief for online gambling companies, the Karnataka High Court has ruled that any ban on betting on online skill games is unconstitutional. Annulling a state law that had criminalized betting on games of skill online, the High Court ruled that the state legislature was free to align any law with the Constitution to control gambling .
A divisional bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit struck down the provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021. The overturned law had criminalized betting on online skill games by prescribing a 3-year jail term and a penalty of up to Rs. 1 lakh for offenders. A batch of petitions from the All India Gaming Federation, Play Games 247, Head Digital and Junglee Games had questioned the state law citing various verdicts from the highest courts. While luck-based sports like betting and gambling continue to be banned under the Public Gaming Act 1867, the Supreme Court of India in 1968 ruled that rummy was a game of skill and ruled in 1996 that horse racing was a skill-based sport. .

Apart from Karnataka High Court, Kerala High Court and Madras High Court also struck down state laws to allow wagering on online skill games. Petitions against a similar law passed by Andhra Pradesh are currently pending in the State High Court, while the Tamil Nadu government’s appeal against the Madras High Court order is pending in the State High Court. Supreme Court.

Last year, online gambling companies submitted to the Madras High Court that rummy was allowed to be played physically in clubs and could not be selectively banned online, while the government of India state had argued that playing a skill-based game with money at stake. . In the absence of proper legislation, the fate of various games of skill in India has had a checkered history. For example, the legal status of poker continues to be in doubt, as the High Court of Gujarat had classified it as a game of chance while the High Court of Calcutta had ruled it to be a game of gambling. ‘address.

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