Karnataka HC strikes down amendment that criminalises playing games of skill by risking money

The petitioners contended that the inclusion of skill within the ambit of gaming is beyond the legislative competence of the state, which has no legislative competence to regulate online gaming.

Published: 14th February 2022 11:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th February 2022 11:53 AM   |  A+A-

Online games have been gaining popularity in India rapidly.

Online games have been gaining popularity in India rapidly.

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Monday struck down certain amendments made by the state government to the Karnataka Police Act to prohibit and criminalise playing of games of skill, including online games, by risking money or otherwise.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Krishna S Dixit pronounced the judgement which was reserved after hearing the petitions filed by All India Gaming Federation and others challenging the validity of the amendment.

The court said that the writ petitions succeed and declared the amendments to the extent of the provisions challenged by the petitioners, not the entire Act, to be ultra-vires to the Constitution of India and struck it down.

However, the court made it clear that the consequences of striking down the provisions shall follow and nothing in this judgment shall be construed to prevent appropriate legislation to be brought about concerning the subject, that is, betting and gambling in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

A writ of mandamus is issued restraining the respondents--state authorities--from interfering with online gaming business and allied activities of the petitioners, the court said.

The petitioners contended that the inclusion of skill within the ambit of gaming is beyond the legislative competence of the state, which has no legislative competence to regulate online gaming.

The State Government strongly defended the amendments, saying that the change is within the legislative competence of the state Legislature. Whether any game is ‘game of skill’ or ‘game of choice’ is a pure question of fact and can only be ascertained after examining the nature of the game, the state argued.



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