Founders of Dream 11 move Karnataka HC over FIR after e-gambling ban

An FIR was registered on October 8 by Annapoorneshwarinagar police against Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain based on a complaint filed by 42-year-old cab driver Manjunatha, a resident of Nagarbhavi.
The Bommai-led 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. (Shutterstock/Representative use)
The Bommai-led 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. (Shutterstock/Representative use)
Published on Oct 26, 2021 12:20 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Bengaluru

The founders of online fantasy sports platform Dream11—Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain—on Monday moved the Karnataka high court, seeking to quash the first information report (FIR) filed against them over the new state law that bans betting in online games.

An FIR was registered on October 8 by Annapoorneshwarinagar police against Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain based on a complaint filed by 42-year-old cab driver Manjunatha, a resident of Nagarbhavi. The duo is accused of violating the law notified by the government on October 5. A case has been registered under Section 79 (keeping common gaming house) and 80 (gaming in common gaming-house) of Karnataka Police Act, 1963.

Following this, Dream11 had suspended operations in Karnataka. “Following the recent media coverage, our Karnataka users have expressed deep concerns and anxiety about their safety and security. In order to allay our users’ concerns, we have decided to suspend operations in Karnataka. This decision is without prejudice to our rights and contentions under law,” Dream11 said in a statement on October 9.

The Bommai-led 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 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 during 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.

The Karnataka high court on October 22 told the advocate general appearing on behalf of the state government not to make arrests under the new online gambling law that faces legal challenges from several gaming firms.

Appearing for All India Gaming Federation(AIGF), a skill gaming industry body that has challenged the law, advocate Arvind P Datar requested the court that no arrests be made as the new law had provision for arrests and FIRs.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021