The Karnataka government has started a crackdown on online gaming under the newly legislated Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021. The Annapoorneshwarinagar police in Bengaluru have registered an FIR against the Founder and Directors of the well-known 'Dream 11' online game application, police sources told IANS on Friday. Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain, the Founders and Directors of Sporta Technologies Private Limited, which promotes the 'Dream 11' gaming app, have been booked as accused number one and two. The police have initiated action based on the complaint by one Manjunath, a resident of Nagarbhavi in Bengaluru filed on Thursday.
The complainant said the Karnataka government made amendments to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, prohibiting the online games of chance and skill where money is risked. He had searched the Google Play Store to know how many online games are withdrawn. Many companies have blocked their mobile applications except 'Dream 11'.
Despite this, the complaint said, they have continued betting on online games by promoting their online mobile gaming application called 'Dream 11'. The people are still putting and risking their money by creating their own fantasy cricket team and losing huge amounts of money giving a chance to the accused to earn unlawfully, the complaint added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government notified the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, banning all formats of online games involving wagering, betting and gambling of all nature and forms in the state. Under the new law, online gaming is considered a non-bailable offence with a fine of Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment of up to three years. Along with banning games of skills, the Karnataka government has categorised online games using electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game as gambling.
The new legislation passed in the Monsoon Session by both the Houses of the Karnataka Assembly has been approved by the Governor. Mobile Premier League (MPL) was one of the first companies to stall its operations in Karnataka followed by Paytm First Games.
Online gaming companies are now planning to move the court questioning the new legislation, like in Tamil Nadu, where online gaming operators got relief against the state government order from the High Court.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has said the new legislation will affect the image of the state as a start-up hub and the state exchequer will see a huge revenue loss. It maintained that with the new legislation, offshore gamblers will flourish. Sources say that the state has more than 100 gaming companies with a workforce of 4,000.
According to consulting firm KPMG, the IPL Fantasy League itself is worth $1 billion. With the upcoming T20 World Cup, the two-month period (September 19 to November 14, 2021) is the peak of the fantasy cricket season of 2021. The ban will strike a huge blow to Fantasy cricket lovers in Karnataka, as the state is among the two top fantasy sports markets in India along with Maharashtra.