Several fantasy gaming platforms like Mobile Premier League (MPL), Paytm First Games and RummyCircle have suspended their services for users in the state of Karnataka after the state legislation passed a law prohibiting money wagering and betting on Tuesday.
The law, passed as part of an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, bans all forms of online gambling and betting platforms.
Even in apps like MPL, which have been ruled as ‘games of skill’ by several courts in India, the law passed in Karnataka prohibits money wagering and as per it, offenders will be subject to a maximum imprisonment of three years or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
On Wednesday, MPL greeted its in Karnataka were greeted with the following message: “Sorry! The law in your state does not permit you to play Fantasy sports”.
Along with MPL, RummyCircle, Nazara’s HalaPlay and many other online gaming apps have updated their respective terms of service in Karnataka.
Although Dream11, one of India’s most popular gaming apps backed by Tiger Global, was still operational in Karnataka however, Paytm First Games was not.
Before Karnataka, states like Assam, Odisha, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had already banned online gaming apps.
The move could be seen as a huge blow to online fantasy gaming platforms, which have spent a considerable amount of time and money in approaching several courts in India and have established the jurisprudence that their platforms relies on skill gaming rather than betting.
Moreover, the timing of the Karnataka law is unfortunate as it comes in the middle of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season, the time when such platforms registers high amount of activities and traction. Also, the IPL will soon be followed by the T20 World Cup.
As per reports, the online gaming industry is mulling to challenge the Karnataka government law, claiming that it goes against the jurisprudence established by multiple Indian courts, including the Supreme Court.
Earlier in August, the Supreme Court had upheld a verdict by the Rajasthan High Court, holding that Dream11 was a game of skill and not chance.
“Given the unique nature of fantasy sports, the FIFS [Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports] members urge the [Karnataka] government to respect and align with the judicial and constitutional protections provided to its business activities,” the industry body FIFS had said in a statement earlier.
Significantly, Dream11 is the founding member of FIFS, which also counts MPL as one of its members.