The Karnataka government on Friday tabled a bill in the assembly to ban online gambling or betting in the state and providing for a maximum imprisonment of three years or fine of up to Rs one lakh for any violation.
The ‘Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ was tabled in the assembly by Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.
The bill to amend the Karnataka Police Act of 1963 states “games means and includes online games, involving all forms of wagering or betting, including in the form of tokens valued in terms of the money paid before or after the issue of it, or electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of chance.”
However, it does not include lottery or wagering or betting on horse races run on any race course within or outside the state.
The Bill, in its statement of objects and reasons, says that “it is considered to amend the 1963 Police Act to provide for enforcement of provisions of the Act, by making offences under certain sections as cognizable offence and non-bailable, except Section 87 (gaming in public streets), which is made cognizable and bailable.
It will include the use of cyberspace, including computer resources or any communication device as defined in Information Technology Act, 2000 in the process of gaming, to curb the menace of gaming through internet and mobile apps.
It provides for enhancing punishment for gaming to wean citizens away from the vice of gambling, extending to three years and fine up to Rs one lakh.
It said the punishment for the first offence would be six months imprisonment and fine of Rs 10,000, for the second, one year imprisonment and fine of Rs 15,000, and for the third offence, 18 months imprisonment and fine of Rs 20,000. Persons aiding or abetting such online gaming would also be punished, it added.
There is no extra expenditure involved in the proposed legislative measure, it said. Instruments of gaming include any article intended to be used as a means of gaming, including computers, computer system, mobile app, or internet or cyberspace, virtual platform, computer network, computer resource, any communication device, electronic applications, software and accessory, the bill said.
Also, means of online gaming, any document, register or record or evidence of any gaming in electronic or digital form, the proceeds of any online gaming or any winning or prize in money or otherwise distributed or intended to be distributed in respect of any gaming, it added.
The state government had in July informed the High Court, hearing a petition seeking a ban on all forms of online betting and gambling, that it had drafted a Bill.
Last November, Tamil Nadu had promulgated an ordinance banning online gambling, and earlier this year, Kerala too had imposed a ban on online rummy games.