Bengaluru: In a relief to online gaming operators, the High Court of Karnataka this morning held as unconstitutional some of the provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which prohibit and criminalise the activities of offering and playing games of skill, including online games, by risking money or otherwise.
This judgement will likely pave the way for fantasy sports and gaming firms to make a comeback in the State. They had suspended operations in October last year.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S. Dixit delivered the verdict while allowing the petitions filed by associations of gaming operators, like Online Gaming Federation, Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, and a few individuals who are online gaming enthusiasts.
While restraining the Government from taking any action against the petitioners, the Bench gave liberty to the Government to enact law on online gaming as per the Constitutional provisions.
The State’s amendment came after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court seeking a ban on online gamling. It removed the distinction between the game of skill and game of chance, thereby bringing skill-based gaming startups under its purview.
The main contention of the petitioners was that provisions in the new law ‘unlawfully’ prohibit the ‘lawful and legitimate’ business of online games of skill. The petitioners contended that games of skill (involving risking of money or otherwise) do not amount to wagering or betting, as interpreted by the Apex Court.