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'Online Gambling Bigger Menace Than Alcohol' : Advocate General Defends Karnataka Police(Amendment) Act 2021

Mustafa Plumber
30 Nov 2021 3:41 PM GMT
Online Gambling Bigger Menace Than Alcohol : Advocate General Defends Karnataka Police(Amendment) Act 2021
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The State Government on Tuesday informed the Karnataka High Court that Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, by which it has banned all kinds of online gaming, is a social legislation. Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi submitted that the, "Object of this enactment is to prohibit activity which is injurious to public health and order." A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu...

The State Government on Tuesday informed the Karnataka High Court that Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, by which it has banned all kinds of online gaming, is a social legislation.

Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi submitted that the, "Object of this enactment is to prohibit activity which is injurious to public health and order."

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum were told, "This online gaming is a bigger menace than Alcohol. It is the biggest menace which we are facing today."

Navadgi defended the state legislature and said, "My submissions are that kindly bifurcate between game of skill and chance. We are not banning games of skills." He cited, "As a run up to the elections huge betting used to take place. Question is not about the legality of the process of elections but on the betting. Just like that, cricket betting is a huge market. If arguments of the other side are to be accepted then it would mean (cricket) is a game of skill if someone is betting on it how can it be an offence?"

Further, it was submitted that the state government has the legislative competence to enact the law. He said "This is not a disproportionate legislation." Citing the number of criminal cases registered across the state. He said, "This legislation cannot be thrown out on the ground of legislative competence. Because it comes under Public order."

Navadgi also said, "Ultimately what we are regulating is betting or organised betting and to say that if i bet on a game of skill is not gambling has no foundation." He added "We treat this (online gambling) much more pernicious than alcohol. This idea is built by petitioners that if I bet on a game of skill it does not come under gambling i do not see any foundation for that. The repository to tell what amounts to pernicious activity should be left to the Legislation."

Navadgi also said that, "Today every person can have a handheld gaming unit, it can be operated all 24 hours. It can be operated by persons of all ages. There is no limit. In physical gambling you get a token etc. But here your bank accounts are linked and your entire bank account can be wiped off. There are not 1 or 2 but more than 10,000 different games."

He also pointed to the court that, "I am told, most of the time bots are computers that play the game. I am not playing against any other individual." He concluded by saying "Tremendous amount of study has gone before bringing in the legislation. The challenge to curb this is gigantic, before the legislation."

On the previous hearing the AG referring to section 78 of the Amended Act said, "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," s."

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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