Days after the Karnataka government announced the amendments made in the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, Dream11, an Indian fantasy sports platform, has ceased its operation in the state after an FIR was registered against the company under the revised act.
Dream11 has also stated in their revised terms and conditions that individuals residing or having a bank account in Karnataka shall be barred from participating in paid contests on their platform, citing that the law of the state was unclear regarding banning online participation of individuals in games of skill in which participants are obligated to pay to enter.
The FIR was lodged by a cab driver in Bengaluru against Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth, directors of Sporta Technologies Private Limited, on October 7, on account of Dream11 allowing players from Karnataka to enter paid contests on its platform. The Karnataka Police Act was recently amended to ban online gaming and prohibit online gambling, betting and wagering.
Subsequently, a case had been registered against the company owners under Section 79 (Keeping common gaming house) and 80 (Gaming in common gaming-house) of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.
Following the news of suspending services in the state, a company spokesperson stated that “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.”
The spokesperson also asserted that the FIFS format of Fantasy Sports has been ratified by the Hon’ble Courts of India as not equating to gambling, betting or wagering.
However, citing concerns and anxiety amongst its user base in Karnataka about their security and safety, the company had decided to put to rest the apprehension among its gaming community and comply with the amendment “without prejudice to (their) rights and contentions under law.”
Meanwhile, All India Gaming Federation, the apex industry body for skill gaming, accompanied by real-money gaming platforms such as MPL, Games24x7, Ace2Three, and Gameskraft have reached out to the Karnataka High Court to petition against the state’s online gambling law.