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AIGF & Gaming Sites Challenge Karnataka Gaming Ban in High Court, FIR Lodged Against Dream11 For Continuing Operations in the State

Karnataka HC
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  • Namita Ghosh October 9, 2021
  • 2 Minutes Read

Earlier this week, Karnataka officially joined the list of Indian states to have banned real-money online gaming. The gaming ban was enforced in the state on October 5 after the new gaming bill was approved by Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot and later notified by the government. As predicted, the government`s decision to ban real-money gaming has been challenged in court.

Reacting to the ban, the self-regulatory gaming body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games 24X7, Gameskraft, and Head Digital Works filed writ petitions challenging the ban at the Karnataka High Court on Thursday. The petitioners have challenged the constitutional validity of the amendments made to the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021.

Along the sidelines of the legal action, fantasy gaming giant Dream11 has been stamped by an FIR for continuing operations in Karnataka even after the gaming ban was notified. The FIR named Dream11 founders Harsh Jain and Bhavith Sharma and is the first reported legal move against online gaming since the ban came into effect.


AIGF & Gaming Operators Challenge Gaming Ban

On Thursday, four writ petitions challenging the Karnataka gaming ban were filed in the High Court. The petitioners AIGF, Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games 24X7, Gameskraft, and Head Digital Works, the parent company of Ace2Three, have challenged the constitutional validity of the state government`s decision to amend the Karnataka Police Act.

The amended legislation, i.e., the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, bans all forms of online gaming except for lottery and horseracing and deems operating or playing such games a criminal offense.

The High Court has reportedly acknowledged the petitions. As the next step, it will examine the petitions before admitting or rejecting them. The Karnataka High Court is closed the entire next week due to Dusshera, and the petitions are expected to be listed for hearing sometime after October 18, once the court resumes operations.


FIR Lodged Against Dream11 For Defying Gaming Ban

After the new law was notified on Monday, most real-money gaming platforms, including MPL, Paytm First Games, RummyCircle, Nazara’s HalaPlay, and poker sites like Adda52 blocked users in Karnataka. According to a report on G2G News, Dream11 continued to allow players in Karnataka access to real-money games on its platform.

On October 7, an FIR was lodged against Dream Sports, the parent firm of Dream11, by Manjunath, a cab driver and resident of Nagabhavi in Bangalore. Police have registered a case under sections 79 and 80 of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act against Dream11 founders Harsh Jain and Bhavith Sharma.

The complainant submitted that while he found that many companies had blocked their mobile applications for online gaming in Karnataka, Dream11 did not. The platform claims – “Lots of players have already won big prizes on Dream11, and you can too. We host different kinds of cash contests, each with its own entry fee and prize money. Choose a contest that you want to play, defeat the competition, and celebrate big wins.”

He added: “I came to know many players in expectation of winning have lost their money. But, surprisingly, who grabs the money is not transparent, and players do not have control over the activities. So, this is a clear case of running online games of wagering and skill risking the money of the players.

It is relevant to note that Dream11 was cleared by the Supreme Court in December 2019 that upheld a Bombay High Court decision, which termed the games played on the site as “games of skill.” However, the amended law in Karnataka has removed the distinction between the game of skill and the game of chance, bringing all skill-based gaming for stakes under its purview and deeming them an offense.

The company has been officially silent over the issue at the time this report was published. This is a developing story. Keep following PokerGuru for more updates.

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