The first case under the recently amended Karnataka Police Law was booked in Bangalore’s Annapoorneshwarinagar on Saturday, October 9, against Dream 11 co-founders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Seth. The FIR was lodged by a cab driver in the city stating Dream 11 had not yet blocked its access in the state, despite it being banned as per the new amendments. Soon thereafter, the company announced its decision to suspend operations in the state of Karnataka.
“It provides a platform for players to create their fantasy team based on a real-life match to score maximum points and win exciting cash prizes worth crores,” the complainant Manjunatha said, citing Section 80 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.
In response, the police are presently preparing a summon for the founders of the company. Within 12 hours after the FIR, the Dream 11 application was no longer accepting participants from Karnataka in any paid contests. Its updated terms and conditions affirm that residents of the state are forbidden "as the laws of these states are unclear/ bar persons from participating in games of skill where participants are required to pay to enter."
Nevertheless, Dream 11 has officially maintained that they have not breached any laws, suggesting the FIR was ‘motivated’ and would be countered through legal options available to them.
“[Dream 11 is a] responsible, law abiding company and will extend our full cooperation to any authorities,” a statement to the Economic Times read.
"The Karnataka Police Act recently amended its gaming law to prohibit online gambling, betting and wagering. We have been advised by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), who have shared an opinion from a former Supreme Court Judge, stating that the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 does not apply to its member Fantasy Sports Operators. This is because the FIFS format of Fantasy Sports has been upheld by the hon’ble Courts of India as not amounting to gambling, betting or wagering," a company spokesperson elaborated to Moneycontrol.
"Our Karnataka users have expressed deep concerns and anxiety on their safety and security. In order to allay our users’ concerns, we have decided to suspend operations in Karnataka. This decision is without prejudice to our rights and contentions under law,” they further added to explain the reason behind suspension of operations.
Karnataka’s Home Minister Araga Jnanendra expressed joy at the news, labelling the case ‘a big win’ against online gambling. The minister stated that while it was true games of skill had not been banned, betting on the outcomes of such games still counted as gambling and can not be permitted.