High Court Tosses Ban on Gambling in Karnataka, India

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The Karnataka High Court has struck down key amendments in the Karnataka Police Act 1963. These amendments were introduced last year to ban any form of gambling in the state, online or otherwise, to reduce the threat of Internet gaming and other apps. However, local government officials were wrong when they made their attempts, as the court ruled their measures were unconstitutional.

Karnataka Welcomes Court Gambling Decision

Petitioners, including the All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF), had claimed that the games were more skill-based, chance-based, and gambling-based than they are. The High Court declared that the provisions were outside the scope of the constitution and, therefore, were struck down.

The court presented its decision with a note of caution. The judgment, it said, is not to be taken as a prohibition against the enactment of appropriate legislation regarding gambling and betting, according to the constitution. The petitioners were issued a writ to mandamus, which prohibits the respondents – the government – from interfering in the online gaming business until such legislation arrives.

iGaming to See a Return in India

The gaming industry is seeing a boost since the pandemic. However, it is expected to continue growing in the future. India is at the forefront of innovation in gaming and has the potential to be a global gaming hub. A secure and supportive policy environment is key to that goal.

The bans on online gaming were also lifted by the Madras and Kerala High Courts. This gives hope to the so-called “sunrise” sector in India, which is committed to helping India reach the $1-trillion digital economy goal by 2025. This judgment also confirms that online skill-based gaming is a legal business and should be allowed the same rights as any other legitimate business.

One of the most promising areas for growth, apart from iGaming, is the Indian fantasy sports market. According to KPMG and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, the country’s net revenue of fantasy sport operators stood at $340 million as of March 2020. This figure is expected to rise to $3.7 billion by 2024, a jump of more than 10x in just four years.

India has always had difficulty understanding the difference between skill- and luck-based games. For years, different states have tried to introduce legislation that banned anything legislators couldn’t wrap their heads around. Hopefully, with the new court ruling, they will finally step into the 21st Century.

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