Karnataka Suspends Online Gambling Days after Launch

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Days after its successful launch on November 21, the Bangalore Turf Club has had its license revoked by the state of Karnataka and can no longer offer interactive online wagering.

Karnataka Calls All Bets off for Online Race Wagering

India will be the next big frontier where legalizing online gambling and sports betting will send ripples. The illegal gambling market in India is currently worth $100 billion, and various local governments, including the state Karnataka, have been keen to capitalize on this revenue.

Yet, Karnataka has ended a temporary waiver to allow online race betting almost immediately after introducing it. On Friday, officials announced that the online betting license issued to the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) earlier this year will no longer apply and all betting activity should end.

BTC was one of the few beneficiaries country-wide to receive a permit with India generally taking a dim view of gambling operations. Yet, the events from the summer in Karnataka gave hopes to many international players that the country may be finally warming up to betting and gambling.

Not So Fast

Officially, BTC started accepting wagers in November, with a betting app, digital wallet and streaming service all ready and set up. While the Bangalore Turf Club had to clear a few technological hiccups, the company felt confident that it would be more than capable to make up for any lost momentum.

These ambitions have been cut short following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed late last month by a local resident who argued that gambling would have a pernicious influence on young people in the state.

The litigation also claimed that the government had not formalized a gambling framework before granting permit to BTC’s mobile app, rendering the solution void. Overall, this is not the first time online gambling has come under attack before it even started.

The Supreme Court of India recently ruled out that all revenue generated by lottery, betting and gambling operations are taxable. A similar PIL action has been submitted to the Delhi High Court, asking from the federal government to impose a blanket ban on all gambling in India.

More States in India Take a Step Back

Meanwhile, the states of Telegana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have all issued a ban on online gambling, dashing the hopes of enthusiasts that the states may soon see multiple verticals legalized at once.

Some government officials, though, have called for the legalization of sports betting, including Minister of Finance Anurag Singh Thakur. Operators across India are dealing differently with the difficult legal climate.

In Tamil Nadu, Junglee Games, a rummy operator, has successfully defended its claim that rummy is already offered across numerous brick-and-mortar venues across the country and it shouldn’t constitute an infringement of existing laws to transfer the product online.

The operator obtained a beneficial ruling from the Madras High Court earlier this week, but this is no guarantee that state authorities won’t see further action.

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