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19th September, 2021
Ref. No.: 3280/1/50
Shri Basavaraj Bommai ji
Hon’ble Chief Minister,
Government of Karnataka,
Vidhana Soudha, Dr. Ambedkar Road,
Bangalore – 560 001
Subject: Regarding the proposed ban on gambling and online skill games through the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021
The Government of Karnataka has proposed to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, to prohibit online gambling. We welcome the government’s efforts to ban online gambling and betting in the state and protect the users. We firmly believe that the same will provide a conducive environment for the online skill gaming industry to grow, and the people of the state will have access to only legal, fair and responsible platforms.
As you are aware the Hon’ble Prime Minister has been a big proponent of the Indian gaming industry. As Modi ji recently stated, the gaming industry in India is directly linked to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Project and it is time that young people come up with local solutions and incorporate Atrnanirbharta in digital gaming industry. Most online games today in India are not in line with Indian thinking, many of them promote violence and it is time that more Indian games are developed.
We believe that it is high time that Indian game developers and platforms are given a global platform to showcase their skills. The Prime Minister believes that Indian-made games are an excellent medium to further the Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat spirit, and it is time that the governments support Indian gaming industry, so that our games with Indian values can be made popular, as opposed to Chinese games and other violent games.
Sir, since the Hon’ble Home Minister of Karnataka, Shri Araga Jnanendra ji has tabled the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2(321 in the Legislative Assembly, we have received multiple representations and appeal for many Indian companies and developers, industry and trade bodies regarding the same, and how this willinto job and industry loss of great magnitude and push the Indian gaming sector back by many years.
The bill to ostensibly ban online gambling or betting, also makes all online games of skill, which charge a small entry or registration fee, illegal. The bill only affect the Indian companies, which mostly charge a small registration fee to play their games, and will have no effect on Chinese and other foreign games, where children spend thousands of rupees on in-app carrom, archery, hockey and digital versions of traditions sports.Sir, the bill, will hurt :he Indian startups sector, the Indian gaming and animation industry and millions of Indian garners and esports players across the country. It will lead to massive job losses in Bengaluru where more than 90 small and big Indian gaming companies are registered which employ over 4000 people, and will also have an effect on various other developers and animation studios.
The gaming start-up sector is the pride of India. Many of these homegrown startups have carried the Indian flag across the world by launching operations in various countries. Bills such as these will end up stifling innovation and enterprise shown by these startups and discourage Indian developers and help Chinese and other foreign companies profit at India’s expense.
Online gaming is now one of the most popular pastimes and sports across the globe and in India. Millions of people in India play online games like chess, archery, quiz etc. More importantly, there is a large ecosystem of game designers, developers, content creators, broadcasters, marketers, animators. Over a million people’s livelihood depends on this sector in India.
Unfortunately, the Karnataka bill does not distinguish between a game of skill and a game of chance. Game of chance is pure gambling and should be rightfully banned. However, by including games of skill in the ambit of the bill, it has not only gone against established jurisprudence by the Ho’ble Supreme Court and Karnataka High Court but threatens the thriving Indian gaming startup sector.
The bill will end up encouraging illegal offshore gambling and betting apps who operate in the online grey market. Thousands of common Indians have lost their life savings to these illegal casino apps. In August, 2020, the Hyderabad police busted an online gambling racket involving a Chinese firm called Beijing T Power Company. This Chinese company had floated several online gambling platforms and done illegal transactions worth Rs. 1.1.0o crores. Once the bill bans online skill games, the law-abiding Indian companies will exit the market and the users will turn to harmful offshore and betting apps, which is harmful and dangerous.
We request you to please ask the Home and other departments to relook at the bill, keeping in mind the interest of Indian companies and developers. A strong and stable regulatory mechanism for online skill games in Karnataka will further help in strengthening India’s global leadership in this sunrise sector and also help Karnataka further cementing its reputation as the startup huh.
Thanking you. With kind regards
National Secretary General
Confederation of All India Traders