Karnataka High Court overturns ban on skill-based gambling

The victory in Karnataka follows similar rulings in other states.
The victory in Karnataka follows similar rulings in other states.

The Karnataka High Court has struck down provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 which prohibited and criminalised online gambling in the Indian state.

India.- The Karnataka state government‘s decision to ban all forms of gambling in the state has been overturned by the Karnataka High Court. The ruling was pronounced by a bench formed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit, who called the provisions “unconstitutional”.

Karnataka announced in September that it would amend its laws to prohibit all forms of betting and gambling, including games of skill. The amended Karnataka Police Act would make all forms of gambling (including online gambling) an identifiable crime. 

The law came into effect on October 5. However, it has been challenged by at least 10 different petitioners, including the All India Game Federation (AIGF) and major Indian game companies such as Mobile Premier League and Junglee Games.

On Monday, the court clarified that its judgment was not striking down the entire Act and said it would not come in the way if the state decided to bring a new law “in consonance with the constitution.”

In September, the Kerala High Court rejected the government’s attempt to ban online rummy, arguing that it was a skill-based game and therefore protected by the Indian Constitution. Petitioners including Junglee Games and Gameskraft Technologies had argued that the move violated their basic right to conduct business and was therefore arbitrary and unreasonable.

In August, a similar ban issued by the government of Tamil Nadu was rejected by the Madras High Court. Online operators had argued that since 1968 the Supreme Court has made it clear that rummy is a game of skill and not a game of chance, and therefore it cannot be banned.

See also: India: Kerala High Court rejects online rummy ban

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