Home Minister tables Bill to ban online gaming
It has not banned lottery or betting on horse races
The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on September 17 to ban online gaming or betting by amending the Karnataka Police Act of 1963, with maximum imprisonment of three years and penalty up to ₹1 lakh.
Home Minister Araga Jnanendra introduced the Bill, which aims to ‘ban online games, involving all forms of wagering or betting, including in the form of tokens valued in terms of money paid before or after issue of it. It 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 race course within or outside Karnataka.
The main objective of the Bill is to make effective enforcement of provisions of the Police Act by making provisions as cognisable offence and non-bailable, except Section 87 (gaming in public streets), which is made cognisable and bailable.
Gaming includes the use of cyberspace, including computer resources or any communication device as defined in Information Technology Act, 2000 in the process of gaming, to curb the menace of gaming through internet and mobile apps.
The punishment was increased from one year and penalty of ₹1,000 to three years and penalty of ₹3 lakh for the orderly conduct of citizens and to wean them away from the vice of gambling.
For the first offence, punishment would be six months of imprisonment and fine of ₹10,000. For the second offence, the punishment would be one year of imprisonment and fine of ₹15,000. For the third offence, punishment would be 18 months of imprisonment and fine of ₹20,000. Persons aiding or abetting online gaming would also be punished.
Instruments of gaming include any article intended to be used as a means of gaming, including computers, computer system, mobile app, or internet or cyberspace, virtual platform, computer network, computer resource, any communication device, electronic applications, software and accessory, or means of online gaming, any document, register or record or evidence of any gaming in electronic or digital form, the proceeds of any online gaming or any winning or prize in money or otherwise distributed or intended to be distributed in respect of any gaming.
The Bill is expected to be debated next week in the Legislative Assembly.
The High Court of Karnataka has asked the State government to take a decision to put an end to online gambling. Neighbouring Kerala and Tamil Nadu have imposed a ban on online games.