Dream11 founders move Karnataka HC to quash FIR over online gaming ban

This comes two weeks after Dream11 had decided to suspend operations in Karnataka, after the police registered an FIR against the founders Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain.
Dream11 cofounders
Dream11 cofounders
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The founders of online sports fantasy platform Dream11 have moved the Karnataka High Court to quash a first information report (FIR) filed against them. Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain moved the HC against the FIR filed by the Bengaluru police over the state’s new online gaming ban that came into force on October 5. The writ petition was filed on Friday, October 22.

This comes two weeks after Dream11 had decided to suspend operations in Karnataka, following the FIR registered against the founders. Before suspending operations, the gaming firm had maintained that the new law did not apply to the company. “The Karnataka Police Act recently amended its gaming law to prohibit online gambling, betting and wagering. We have been advised by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), who have shared an opinion from a former Supreme Court Judge, stating that the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 does not apply to its member Fantasy Sports Operators. This is because the FIFS format of Fantasy Sports has been upheld by the hon’ble Courts of India as not amounting to gambling, betting or wagering,” the company had said in a statement.

However, Dream11 said that following the recent media coverage, their users in Karnataka have expressed deep concern over their safety and security, and in order to allay their concerns, “we have decided to suspend operations in Karnataka”.

The FIR was filed based on a complaint by Manjunath, a resident of Bengaluru. Following the FIR, Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain had been booked as accused number one and two. The Bengaluru police filed the FIR against the founders on the complaint that the firm continued to offer gaming services on its platform despite the state government notifying the new rules prohibiting “games of chance”. 

The Karnataka government had notified the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, banning all types of online games that involve wagering, betting and gambling of all forms in the state. Online gaming is considered a non-bailable offence under the new law with a fine of Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment of up to three years.

The All India Gaming Federation has filed a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963. Gaming companies like the Mobile Premier League too have approached the court challenging the law. As per industry experts, Karnataka is among the top three states in India based on the number of fantasy gaming users.

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