The State Government on Tuesday informed the Karnataka High Court that it proposes to have a legislation for regulating online gambling and betting in the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum granted six weeks' time to the state government to file its statement of objections to a petition filed seeking to ban all forms of Online Gambling and Online Betting of any nature until unless an appropriate regulatory regime is established.
The bench in its order noted "AGA seeks time on the ground that a proposal to have a legislation is being placed before the cabinet. He seeks six weeks' time." It added "State government shall place on record the decision taken by the cabinet while filing the statement of objections."
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for The Online Rummy Federation submitted : "We are running online rummy and we want to show your milord that this is not illegal and should not be prohibited." The Federation sought to be impleaded as respondents in the matter. Advocate Shridhar Prabhu appearing for the petitioner did not object to the application being allowed.
Accordingly, the court allowed the impleadment application and directed the petitioner to carry out the physical amendment within six weeks time and allowed the Federation to file its statement of objections to the petition, within six weeks.
The petition filed by Sharada D R states that because there is complete regulatory vacuum as far as the online betting and gambling are concerned. There is no regulatory body or governmental structure to regulate and monitor online gambling and betting. As a result, the vulnerable sections of society, particularly the youth, adolescents and even children are prone to hazardous and predatory situations amidst this pandemic.
It is also mentioned that High Courts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have directed their respective jurisdictional state legislatures to explore the possibilities of regulating the regime. In these states there exists a central legislation. However, in Karnataka there is neither central legislation nor any regulatory regime.
The petition also notes that because the State has no mechanism to monitor whether any online game or activity is a game of chance or involves skill. It cites the example of the Game of Rummy is a game of skill. It is said "However, what holds good for the game in the offline mode may not be true for the online mode. The State has not bothered to create any monitoring mechanism to ascertain whether the online Rummy offered by various virtual gaming platforms. In fact, admittedly many other puritan games of chance are in vogue on the internet, which can be very easily accessible and played by persons of all age groups including the children. However, the State has not taken any action to regulate the same."
The petition also states that because in the present pandemic situation, vulnerable sections of society, particularly, youngsters and children have access to the internet via mobile phones and laptops. Realising this precarious situation, many states have brought about legislation and regulatory regime to ban online gambling and betting.
The matter will be next heard on March 21.
Last week, the Kerala High Court had directed the government to take a decision within 2 weeks on a proposal by the State Police to include online gambling under the Kerala Gaming Act.
In November 2020, the Madras High Court had asked the Tamil Nadu Government to bring a law to curb online betting. Following that, the Tamil Nadu government brought an Ordinance recently. The Gujarat High Court has also passed a similar direction.Also, the Delhi High Court has directed the Union Of India & Delhi Government to treat a petition filed against online gambling, as a representation and decide the grievances ventilated in the petition, as narrated in detail in the writ petition