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The real-money gaming industry in Karnataka may be on the verge of closing down. In February, the Karnataka High Court (HC) had asked the state government to table a proposal for the proposed legislation before the state cabinet. On Wednesday, the HC asked the state government to respond to the petition seeking to ban all forms of online betting and gambling. The state government has until May 27 to file its decision with the court, and the matter has been adjourned till June 1.
The court’s directive comes in response to a petition filed by Sharada DR in September last year that pointed to the regulatory vacuum regarding online gambling. The petitioner followed it up in October with a reminder. Having not received any government response, the petitioner approached the HC seeking a ban on all forms of real money gaming.
The state government responded by claiming that people from any part of the world can gamble online, and the matter might make the central government a necessary party. Rejecting the argument, the HC directed the state government to respond to Sharada DR’s petition by tabling a proposal to regulate online gaming.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said, “In the light of the representation in terms of annexure A, the state government will have to take a stand about action, if any they propose to take in the subject matter.”
The bench further stated, “To enable the state government to take a stand we adjourn the petition till June 1. The decision taken by the state government shall be placed on record in the form of objections by May 27.”
Real money gaming is already banned in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Kerala’s state government is also looking to amend the Kerala Gaming Act 1960 by removing the special exemption granted to online rummy, effectively making rummy and other real money online games illegal.
Given that Karnataka’s neighboring states have shunned online gaming, there is a high probability that Karnataka too may join the list of states where real money gaming is currently prohibited.