Karnataka Assembly passes bill banning online ‘games of chance’
The government, however, will deal with operators and abettors who run games of chance camouflaged as games of skill, the chief minister said. Even those skill games that involve the risk of the player losing money would invite action under the law, he said.
The chief minister, responding to a query from Sharath Bachegowda (Hoskote), said overseas operators of online gambling cannot have a free run if their local operators are caught and punished. That was how the government successfully tackled the matka menace, he said.
Home minister Araga Jnanendra requested the House to pass the bill. It defines online games comprehensively, capturing the latest advances in technology, and mentions all types of electronic items including mobile phones, computers and tablets, to ensure there are no gaps. It defines banned online games as “any act or risking money… on the unknown result of an event, including on a game of skill”.
The bill makes most offences, such as operating such games, sheltering such operations, and abetting and participating in such online games, both cognisable and non-bailable. It proposes a prison term of up to three years and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, for offenders.
But Congress MLA and former IT Minister Priyank Kharge said the bill does not properly reflect the distinction between games of skill and games of chance. In a tweet, he said the government needed to be more specific and identify games that encourage betting. The government should form a committee with industry stakeholders and come out with a law that curbs online betting instead of a bill that won’t stand the test of law, he said.
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Earlier this year, Kerala had
prohibited online rummy games through the Kerala Gaming Act. A Bengaluru-based company challenged this, but the Kerala High Court refused to lift the ban.