MPL, Paytm first apps to go offline following a gaming ban
Major real-money gaming platforms like Mobile Premier League, Paytm First Games and RummyCircle have suspended their services for users in Karnataka after state legislation prohibiting money wagering and betting was enacted on Tuesday. The law, passed as part of an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, bans all forms of online gambling and betting platforms. Even in apps like MPL, which have been ruled as ‘games of skill’ by several courts in India.
This could be terrible news for the company owners and investors in this booming sector in India, where foreign investors have pumped in millions of dollars in recent months.
On Wednesday morning, MPL's gaming app showed messages to users in Karnataka that said: "Sorry! The law in your state does not permit you to play Fantasy sports", "Fantasy games are locked" and "cash games are locked". The gaming app offers fantasy cricket and football games and allows real-money wagering on them. Dream11, one of India's most popular gaming apps backed by Tiger Global, was still operational, but Paytm First Games was not.
According to the law, offenders will be subject to a maximum imprisonment of three years or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. Dream11 was still working in Karnataka at the time of publishing and it isn’t clear when the company will suspend its services in the state. To be sure, before Karnataka, states like Assam, Odisha, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had already outlawed online gaming apps. Roland Landers, the chief executive of the All India Gaming Federation, informed the Economic Times"the industry will challenge this in court and seek legal recourse". A well-placed gaming industry source said that the industry is planning to sue the Karnataka government over the law, claiming that it goes against the jurisprudence established by multiple Indian courts, including the Supreme Court.
The law imposes hefty fines and prison terms on violators and has been implemented amid growing concerns that online gaming platforms, like gambling, are addictive and can cause financial harm.