The Karnataka legislative assembly on Tuesday passed a bill to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 to ban all forms of gambling in the state, including online gambling.
The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced by Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and was passed amid the opposition’s scepticism of police’s capabilities in tackling new forms of gambling – including online betting on sports, online gaming and poker.
The home minister said that the new law was necessary since it has been increasingly difficult for the police to tackle gambling and betting in the context of a recent order from a bench of the state high court at Dharwad – which has barred the police from carrying out raids on gambling dens.
“There is a lot of gambling happening using electronic devices and this has to be controlled,” the home minister told the legislative assembly while introducing the new bill.
The bill aims to strengthen provisions of the Karnataka Police Act to make gambling a cognisable and non-bailable offence and “include the use of cyberspace including computer resources or any communication device as defined in the Information Technology Act, 2000 in the process of gaming to curb the menace of gaming through the internet, mobile apps”.
The amended law prescribes a three-year jail term for gambling instead of one year and a fine of up to Rs one lakh. The law exempts only bets on horse races from the purview of gambling.
“Major gambling is happening in an organised way in many places,” Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai said.
Congress leader Ramesh Kumar said no gambling activity could take place without the knowledge of the police and that efforts should be made to improve police capabilities to tackle the crime.