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Risking Money By Betting On 'Unknown Result' Of A Game Of Skill Amounts To Wagering: State Tells Karnataka High Court

Mustafa Plumber
23 Nov 2021 1:33 PM GMT
Risking Money By Betting On Unknown Result Of A Game Of Skill Amounts To Wagering: State Tells Karnataka High Court
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The Karnataka government on Tuesday submitted before the High Court that betting on the outcome of a game, whether of chance or of skill, amounts to 'wagering' since such outcome is not known."Wagering or betting, to put it in simple words is collection or soliciting bet from someone or I receive or distribute the prices either in money or otherwise, then wagering and betting is done. If...

The Karnataka government on Tuesday submitted before the High Court that betting on the outcome of a game, whether of chance or of skill, amounts to 'wagering' since such outcome is not known.

"Wagering or betting, to put it in simple words is collection or soliciting bet from someone or I receive or distribute the prices either in money or otherwise, then wagering and betting is done. If anybody risks their money by soliciting or betting on an unknown result of an event, either in money or otherwise amounts to wagering and betting. Unknown result can be a game of chance or game of skill," submitted Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi while opposing the pleas challenging constitutional validity of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, by which the state government has banned all online gaming.

Citing an example of a cricket match between Indian and Pakistan, Navadgi submitted,

"If India vs Pakistan is playing, it is a game of skill. If I solicit bets from many people on the game, I am collecting bets in respect of an unknown result. It can be a game of skill."

Navadgi made it clear that the impugned legislation is not concerned with game of skill. Rather, it is regarding the organised syndicate which collects bets on an unknown result.

"The question before your lordship is whether preventing an organised syndicate from collecting and betting on an unknown result is banned or not."

"If you own an online game and use it for the purpose of wagering and betting it amounts to offence," he added. 

The State also pointed out that none of the petitioners challenging the legislation have been charged under it and thus, opposed the grant of interim relief of stay. "There is no cause or concern to challenge the validity of the legislation. They must come and state whether action has been initiated against them," Navadgi said.

To this, the court responded,

"Infection need not wait till gangrene is found. Citizens need not wait to approach the courts as per judgement of the Apex court in the case of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India."

The court will continue hearing the petitions on November 30.

Background:

The Amendment Act came into force on October 5, it includes all forms of wagering or betting, including in the form of tokens valued in terms of money paid before or after the issue of it. It has banned electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of 'chance'. However, there is no ban on lottery, or betting on horse races on any racecourse within or outside Karnataka.

The statement of objects and reasons states: "It is considered necessary further to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1961 Karnataka Act 4 of 1964, to provide for effective enforcement of the provisions of this Act by making offences under Chapter VII and under section 90, 98, 108, 113,114 and 123, as cognizable offence and non-bailable except section 87, which is made cognizable and bailable."

Further, "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 internet, mobile app, to enhance the punishment for gaming for the orderly conduct of citizens and to wean them away from the vice of gambling."

Case Title: All India Gaming Federation v. State Of Karnataka

Case No: WP 18703/2021

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