Updated: October 10, 2021 9:06:19 pm
Days after a case was registered against it following a ban on online gambling in the state, online fantasy sports platform Dream11 on Sunday stated that it was suspending its operations in Karnataka.
In a statement released to the press, Dream11 said, “The Karnataka Police Act recently amended its gaming law to prohibit online gambling, betting and wagering. We have been advised by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), who have shared an opinion from a former Supreme Court Judge, stating that the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 does not apply to its member Fantasy Sports Operators. This is because the FIFS format of Fantasy Sports has been upheld by the hon’ble Courts of India as not amounting to gambling, betting or wagering.
However, following the recent media coverage, our Karnataka users have expressed deep concerns and anxiety on their safety and security. In order to allay our users’ concerns, we have decided to suspend operations in Karnataka. This decision is without prejudice to our rights and contentions under law.”
In what was probably the first case registered after modifying the law to curb online gaming, Manjunath, a cab driver and resident of Nagarbhavi in Bengaluru, filed a complaint against the owners of Dream Sports on October 7.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (west) Sanjeev M Patil had told The Indian Express that a case was registered under Section 79 (Keeping common gaming house) and 80 (Gaming in common gaming-house) of Karnataka Police Act, 1963. A case was registered against Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth, directors of Sporta Technologies Private Limited and Dream11, which is one of the firm’s products.
In his complaint, Manjunath said he read about the amended Karnataka Police Act, 1963 in newspapers and searched Google Play Store to know how many online games had withdrawn services. Surprisingly, many companies had blocked their mobile applications related to online games of wagering and skills where public money could be risked, but not Dream11.
Manjunath said, “I came to know many players in expectation of winning have lost their money. But it is surprising that who grabs the money is not transparent and players do not have the control over the activities. So, this is a clear case of running online games of wagering and skill risking the money of the players,” he alleged in the complaint.
In a statement, Dream11 had then said, “We believe the complaint is motivated and are examining our legal remedies. We are a responsible, law abiding company and will extend our full cooperation to all authorities.”
Recently, the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was passed by the legislature despite a similar law — the Tamil Nadu Gambling and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 — passed in February in Tamil Nadu being struck down by the Madras High Court this August as being ultra vires.
The new Karnataka law aims to strengthen the Karnataka Police Act to make gambling a cognisable and non-bailable offence and “curb menace of gaming through the Internet, mobile apps”.
The amended law covers all forms of wagering or betting “in connection with any game of chance” with the exception of horse races and lotteries. The amended law also puts betting on the skills of others in the category of gambling and also states that “any act of risking money or otherwise on the unknown result of an event including on a game of skill” is an offence.
(With ENS inputs)
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