The Karnataka High Court Monday struck down provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021 that prohibited and criminalised online gambling and offering and playing skill games, including online, by risking money or otherwise.
The Karnataka Assembly passed legislation in September to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, rendering all forms of gambling, including internet gambling, non-bailable offences and “curb[ing the] menace of gaming through the Internet [and] mobile apps.” Instead of one year in prison, the revised law mandated three-year imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹100,000 for gambling.
In response, several gaming operators, like the Online Gaming Federation and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, and several online gaming enthusiasts filed a petition in the High Court, according to The Hindu. The petitioners argued that games of skill, regardless of whether or not they carry the risk of losing money, are neither wagering nor betting.
The Kerala and Madras High Courts have struck down similar legislation prohibiting online gaming in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Kerala High Court overturned a state law prohibiting online rummy. Previously, the Madras High Court had struck down a rule enacted by the Tamil Nadu parliament that prohibited all types of online games, including skill-based games such as poker and rummy, that were played for stakes.