Karnataka Government One Step Closer To Banning Online Gambling
The millennial generation in Karnataka continues to spend a lot of time on online casino games like teen-Patti, rummy, and poker. When it comes to online and mobile sports betting, both the young and older generation have shown a growing interest in offshore sports betting sites that allow them to place bets on their favorite sports and events, including the Indian Premier League (IPL).
PIL Filed Against iGaming Operators
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by a Karnataka resident in the Karnataka High Court stating that online gambling has gotten out of control in India’s silicon valley state. The petition pointed out that if the authorities do not take action to control the growth of online gambling, it will cause a lot of damage to the younger generation.
Neighbouring state Tamil Nadu recently decided to ban online gambling after a PIL filed in the state high court brought to notice the increase in gambling-related suicides and debts. The TN High Court gave the state government a choice between legalizing online gambling or banning it. Tamil Nadu decided to ban online gambling
The Karnataka High Court heard the PIL and instructed the Karnataka state government to review the matter and decide. The instruction appears to be rather similar to that of TN. Karnataka will have to decide whether they will develop regulations and legalize online gambling or ban it outright.
Karnataka Revokes BTC Horse Betting License
The Karnataka horse racing industry has plummeted in 2020 due to COVID-19. Top racetracks in the state like the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) have been out of action for months due to the lockdown. Their profits have plummeted, and BTC has found it difficult to survive as COVID-19 restrictions mean they cannot sell tickets for the racing events and hence cannot live to take bets as there is no one in attendance.
The BTC put in a request in early 2020 to get the state government to make an exception and give them an exemption to offer mobile and online horse race betting. BTC was so confident that it would get approval from the government that it went ahead and invested in developing a mobile horse racing app.
BTC got the approval they wanted from the Karnataka government and started accepting mobile and online horse bets from Nov 21. The initial response to the mobile betting app was positive, but a few issues needed fixing.
However, the Karnataka government had a change of heart and sent a notice to the BTC informing them that they had a change of mind and was revoking the earlier permission to offer online and mobile horse betting. The BTC was not given an explanation as to why the government decided to backtrack on its decision to offer mobile horse betting. The BTC was informed that they had to stop offering online horse betting immediately.
Karnataka One Step Closer To Ban
While the state government has not shared details as to why it revoked permission for online horse betting, we can safely assume that the PIL in the Karnataka High Court against online gambling had something to do with the license revocation. The fact that the state government decided to go back to the ban on online horse betting does not hold good for the online gaming industry in the state.
This gives us a glimpse into what the state government is thinking. Instead of getting together and coming up with a framework to legalize online gambling, the state government is taking the easier route to ban all forms of online gambling.
This is not positive news for the iGaming industry or for Karnataka players who like playing online casino games and betting on sports. As of now, it looks like Karnataka is likely to take a leaf out of Tamil Nadu’s book and ban online gambling in 2021.
Can Karnataka Enforce Online Gambling Ban?
Should Karnataka go ahead and ban online gambling, the big question is whether the state government will be able to implement the ban successfully. Tamil Nadu has banned online gambling, but punters can still access online gambling sites. The TN government has not shared any info on how they are going to enforce the ban.
The Karnataka government will need to share information on how it will enforce the ban and what penalties will be imposed on iGaming operators who violate the ban and on players who defy the ban. An online gambling ban in Karnataka will push the tech-savvy crowd to use VPNs to bypass whatever protocols are put in place and continue to play at online gambling sites.