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Supreme Court Issues Notice on Karnataka Govt’s Appeal Against High Court Order Overturning Gaming Ban

Supreme Court
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis September 16, 2022
  • 3 Minutes Read

Exactly a week after the Supreme Court issued notice on the appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the Madras High Court order, the apex court of the country issued a similar notice to skill-based gaming companies and industry bodies on a Karnataka government plea against a similar order by the Karnataka High Court that overturned a blanket gaming ban in the state.


A Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice V Ramasubramanian clubbed the Karnataka government’s appeal with the Tamil Nadu government petition. Both cases are expected to be heard jointly by a new bench.

The Karnataka High Court, on February 14, held as unconstitutional the contentious provisions of the Karnataka Police Act that banned all forms of real-money online gaming in the state. The state moved the Supreme Court in March.

Among the respondents is skill-gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), self-regulatory fantasy sports industry body Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), gaming firms Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games24x7, Head Digital Works, Junglee Games, and Gameskraft.

On September 9, while hearing the Tamil Nadu government’s plea, a separate Supreme Court bench listed the case for hearing after ten weeks. The court gave the gaming companies and industry bodies four weeks to file their replies. The state government would get two more weeks to file a rejoinder, if any.

With Tamil Nadu and Karnataka’s cases getting clubbed, a favorable decision by the Supreme Court on the matter will breathe new life into the online gaming industry in India. But a negative outcome will leave the legalization of online gaming in the hands of the states and make future legal challenges difficult.

While the Tamil Nadu government is already working out the details of a new ordinance to ban online gaming without waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision, the Karnataka government has made no such move.

These developments come at a time when the Central government is seriously mulling over regulating the burgeoning online gaming sector.

A recent draft report from a government panel recommended that the Center tighten the regulatory framework governing online games. It has advocated for a stricter stance on online gambling by creating a regulatory body to differentiate online games, those based on pure chance to others requiring skills and also bring rules to block prohibited formats.

The Indian game industry, with the current $1.5 Billion market, is estimated to grow to $5 Billion by 2025. Experts believe that this much-awaited report will shape the future of the mobile gaming industry in India.

Here are some of the highlights of the panel’s proposed regulatory framework recommendation in its draft report:

  • The federal government should consider enacting a separate law to regulate online gaming as a “long-term measure.” As an “interim measure,” until such a new law is passed, the industry can be controlled through rules drafted under India’s existing IT law.
  • India’s IT ministry would act as the central ministry for online gaming, except for e-sports and games of chance.
  • Any new legal framework should apply to real money and free games of skill, including esports, online fantasy sports, card games, and other casual games that may impose a significant impact. The rules would apply to gaming companies in India and those operating outside the country but targeting Indian users.
  • Creation of a regulatory body for the online gaming industry, which among other things, will determine what qualifies as a game of skill and certify different gaming formats.
  • Inclusion of provisions for a “Code of Ethics” for the gaming publishers; have due diligence of online gaming platforms, including a robust grievance redressal mechanism and mandatory know-your-customer norms.
  • Any online gaming platform offering real-money online games to Indian users should have a legal entity incorporated under Indian law. Provide blocking powers for the government to deal with unregistered online gaming platforms.
  • Have a three-tier dispute resolution mechanism consisting of a gaming platform, self-regulatory organizations of gaming platforms, and an oversight committee led by an appropriate ministry.


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