Amid the months-long controversy, the Karnataka High Court, on Monday struck down the state’s online gambling law as unconstitutional.
On December 22, the High Court had reserved its judgement after concluding the hearings from a series of petitioners including industry gaming firms, associations and individuals who had challenged the constitutional validity of the law.
Skill gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), self-regulatory fantasy sports industry body Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), real-money gaming firms Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games24x7, A23(Ace2Three), Junglee Games, Gameskraft and Pacific Games, are among the petitioners who had moved the high court, amid the controversial law.
These petitions had challenged the constitutional legitimacy of revisions made to the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act that had prohibited all types of internet gaming where the move of money is involved.
Here is how leaders from the gaming industry reacted:
Sagar Nair, Co-Founder & CEO, Qlan, the Gamer’s Social Network said, “Real money gaming in India is still somewhat of a grey area while also being one of the most popular forms of gaming. We’re witnessing Indian betting platforms enter global markets despite continued concerns back home. What could help is a central approach by the Indian Government, laying down an operational blueprint for RMG/betting platforms. While there are no issues surrounding esports, a formulation of a legal framework addressing any form of gaming is necessary for the sustainable growth of the sought after industry.”
Roland Landers, CEO, All India Gaming Federation stated, “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. As the apex industry body for online skill gaming, AIGF welcomes the judgment passed by the court that strikes down the Law banning Online Games. Coming in a succession of the positive judgments for online skill gaming by the Kerala and Madras HC in 2021, this is a step in the right direction to grow the burgeoning gaming industry.”
Dinker Vashisht, Vice President Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Games24x7 said, “The verdict by Honourable High Court of Karnataka, is yet another validation of what the online skill gaming industry has always maintained that we are legitimate business activity protected under the Constitution of India. This is the third High Court judgment, Tamil Nadu and Kerala verdicts, being the earlier ones, in the last seven months that has held a ban on skill gaming as Ultra Vires the constitution. We hope that these judgments can nudge state governments to frame progressive policy and regulatory structure for this sunrise sector.”
Ankur Singh, CEO & Founder of Witzeal Technologies said, “We are excited to hear the judgment of the Hon’ble Court enabling us to resume business in Karnataka and provide our gaming platform to our users. This move is in line with the initiatives proposed by the FM in the Union budget to set up an AVGC task force and will further help in giving a much-needed push to gaming companies and developers. Moreover, the move will provide immense opportunity for the employment of youth by building internal capabilities to cater to domestic and international demands.”
Puneet Singh, Co-founder and COO, Baazi Games said, “It’s a great day for the RMG industry. This segment is being recognised again and again especially from top judicial institutions of the country. Even the central government has been showing support to the gaming industry as seen in the recent budget presented by the Hon’ble FM. I am sure all state governments will also support the industry to realise its true potential, both for employment opportunities and revenue generation which can also be a big contributor to the GDP. This will also boost the investor sentiment towards the segment.”
Mitesh Gangar, Co-Founder, PlayerzPot said, “It is a major relief by Karnataka High Court and will pave the way for all brands to start its operations in Karnataka. The state contributed to a sizable chunk of user base and revenue for us and this ban uplift will allow our users to come back to skill-based gaming. Gaming is growing day by day in India and such positive impact decisions will help the industry to grow at an accelerated rate. We believe that in drafting any regulations the stakeholder of the business should get a fair opportunity to put forward their point to avoid any similar bans ahead. The future of gaming in India is bright and this ruling is in favour of the anticipated growth trends of the industry. Lastly, we are keeping our firm footing for being responsible gaming and will endeavour to maintain it.”
A statement by Zupee read, “We welcome the judgement of the High Court of Karnataka striking down the ban against online gaming and for restraining action against online gaming businesses and allied activities. This is a progressive move that makes the intent of the new India very clear – no misgivings, misinformation or personal reservations should get in the way of innovation and growth. The thoughtful verdict by the Hon’ble High Court provides the gaming industry with a secure environment to accelerate its growth and expansion in the southern states. As most gaming enterprises in India are start-ups, it will encourage entrepreneurial spirit and reassure investor confidence in the Indian market.