Amid all the controversy and flak from the gaming industry, the Karnataka Assembly has passed an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, which seeks to ban online gaming and curtail online gambling.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the proposal is not valid for online games that strictly comply with the “game of skills”.
Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation states, “India is the fifth largest online gaming market globally and skill-based gaming, a sunrise sector, is giving birth to an increasing number of unicorns within the country, especially Karnataka. The sector has been a strong financial contributor to the Indian economy even during an unprecedented period of slowdown and is further expected to generate revenues in excess of $ 3 billion by 2025. The move by the Karnataka government is a setback to the state’s reputation of being a tech-hub and start-up capital.”
According to the reports, the amendments were made to ban online gaming or betting, with maximum imprisonment of three years and a penalty up to Rs. 1 lakh. The bill was introduced in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly by Araga Jnanendra, State Home Minister
“The ban in Karnataka is disconcerting for this sunrise sector in India, particularly at a time when the higher judiciary has reiterated the difference between games of skill and games of chance. That Karnataka, which is a tech and start-up capital of India, should take such a step is all the more distressing because a lot of other states realize gaming’s potential and working on policies to attract investment from gaming companies- in view of the sector’s immense multiplier benefits,” said, Dinker Vashisht, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Games24x7.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has said that this bill will largely impact the Indian Gaming Startup industry of over 600 companies, including Dream 11, Nazara, MPL, Games24x7, and PayTM First Games.
“Karnataka’s bill to ban online gaming will be a setback to Indian startups. We (CAIT India) endorse a ban on foreign apps but also ban Indian games skills which will kill the gaming industry,” tweeted CAIT National General-Secretary Praveen Khandelwal.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai, Khandelwal. said, “Unfortunately, the bill does not distinguish between a game of skill and a game of chance. However, by including the game of skills in the ambit of the bill, it has not only gone against established jurisprudence but threatens a thriving Indian gaming start-up sector.”