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Indian state of Karnataka bans online gambling with new law

| By Marese O'Hagan
A bill that makes all gambling illegal in the Indian state of Karnataka has been signed into law, after being approved by the state Legislative Assembly and governor.

The bill, titled the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill 2021, was passed at the tenth session of the fifteenth Legislative Assembly.

It then received assent from governor Thawar Chand Gehlot on Monday (4 October) before being published in the state’s Official Gazette.

The bill amends a number of sections in the Karnataka Police Act of 1963.

Several of the amendments specify definitions of gaming, in order to also include online games. Section 2 clause 12, for example, now includes a clearer definition of gaming as including games played online “by means of instruments of gaming, computer, computer resource, computer net work, computer system or by mobile app or internet or any communication device, electronic application, software or on any virtual platform.”

These further clarifications appear several times throughout the Bill. A further section has been amended to prohibit gaming using cyber cafés, mobile gaming and gaming on any communication device.

In section 79, a fine of up to rupees one lakh (₹100,000/£983.41/€1,156.24) has been stipulated for any person who operates gambling from any building or vessel. Previously, a fine was not stipulated.

In addition, bail will not now be permitted for offences under chapter 7- excluding section 87- and all offences under section 90, 108, 113, 114 and 123.

The amended bill was enacted by Karnataka State Legislature and published in the Karnataka Gazette on October 5, meaning that it has officially become law.

Karnataka – in south-western India – includes the city of Bangalore and has a population of 61.1 million.

Last year, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh introduced a ban of its own on online gambling.

In August, a global survey conducted by YouGov found that online gambling was most popular in India, with 76% of participants reporting a preference for it. This is compared to 70% in Great Britain and 69% in Italy.

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