HC asks Karnataka government to clarify stand on online betting at BTC

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday found strange the State government’s “contradicting stand” that there was no provision in law empowering it to grant permission to Bangalore Turf Club Ltd. (BTC) to conduct online betting for horse racing and that the BTC need not seek permission from the government for online betting.

If the government wanted to say that it had no power to permit BTC to conduct online betting, how could it grant permission? And if the BTC did not require government approval, then why did the BTC approach the government seeking permission? A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty posed these questions to the government counsel during the hearing of a PIL petition filed by C. Gopal, a resident of Shanti Nagar in Bengaluru.

The Bench posed these questions following the contradicting claims by the government on the court’s question posed during an earlier hearing about the statute under which it had granted permission to BTC to hold online betting, instead of betting permitted on the premises of the racecourse.

The government should withdraw the in-principle approval given to the BTC on June 29, 2020, allowing online betting, or the court will have to quash it, the Bench said orally while asking the government counsel to take clear instructions from the authorities.

However, the Bench made it clear that it was not commenting on the legality of online betting in the racecourse, but only asking about the power of the government to grant permission.

Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for BTC contended that they had approached the government as mode of betting was part of the conditions imposed in the licence granted to BTC under the provisions of the Karnataka Racecourses Licensing Act, 1952.

The government, in its written statement, had said that there was nothing illegal in allowing online betting as it would encourage a cashless digital economy, increase revenue for both BTC as well as the government, and decrease illegal betting.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 8:26:24 AM |

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