Karnataka approves bill banning online betting
The Karnataka Cabinet has approved the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill in a bid to abolish online betting and gambling in the state, during their latest meeting in Bengaluru on Saturday. The move comes on the back of increasing complaints by parents and organizations to take action against the growing market of virtual betting.
"We are amending the Karnataka Police Act, with an intention to put an end to online gambling, on the basis of the High Court directions. The cabinet has approved the amendments, it will be placed before the assembly," Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy stated.
“The draft Bill defines online games as, games involving all forms of wagering or betting including in the form of tokens valued in terms of the money paid before or after the issue of it or electronic means and virtual currency, also electronic transfer of currency in connection with any game of chance,” he further added. However, betting on horse races at race courses and lotteries have been omitted from the bill’s domain.
The bill will be tabled at the Legislative Assembly’s upcoming monsoon session, scheduled to begin on the 13th of September. If passed, any online gaming activity involving monetary gains will be considered a criminal activity in the state and result in upto three years of imprisonment or Rs. 1 lakh fine.
Even if the bill becomes an act, it remains to be seen whether it will be upheld by the judiciary. The state of Tamil Nadu had adopted a similar law entitled Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021, which included in its purview the ban on online games such as rummy and poker with monetary stakes. This elicited a number of writ petitions by the promoters of websites and applications that offer these services.
Ultimately, the Madras High Court declared the act null and void last month, stating it was ultra vires to the Indian Constitution. In other words, the judges believed the state legislature had acted beyond their authority by violating the Constitution's Article 19(1)(g) that grants people the fundamental right to practise any profession, occupation, trade or business.