Notice To State Government Questioning Permission Granted To Conduct Online Betting: Karnataka High Court

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Mr H.V.PRAVEEN GOWDA filed a PIL before a Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Vishwajith Shetty to quash an approval granted by the state government to Bangalore Turf Club Limited (BTC) to conduct online betting.

Facts

In the present case, Bangalore Turf Club Limited asked permission from the State government to conduct online betting of their Tote. The club wanted to expand off course centres throughout Karnataka, collaborate with shop retailers, and also create an app-based gambling program. The government gave their assent for online betting. The BTC then started a massive preparation to reach even the remotest rural houses which led the petitioner to come before the court. 

Petitioner’s Submission

The Petitioner submitted before the Bench that gambling was a bane to society and using online to promulgate betting was a sin towards society. Additionally, the grant of such sin by the State would just get the people to act recklessly and end up in insolvency. This would affect thousands of families. The insolvent would then move towards crime to fulfil the desire or to get away from debt and this would lead to the total annihilation of the social fabric.  

Grounds

The Petitioners accused the government of ignoring the aspects of online gambling before acceptance. The assent without proper reasoning was unacceptable and would just create unnecessary friction in society. Additionally, gambling involves high risk and uncertainty which would ultimately lead to the moral and legal degradation of society. The technology would just increase the degradation to higher levels. The addiction would creep into rural households and would cause trouble in already troubled times. These new dimensions should be first checked by the government and then only the State should come to a decision. 

The Petitioner contended that gambling used as a recreational sport is not an issue. It became an issue after the person got addicted and started to splurge money and time. The gambler loses everything which he had earned. The Petitioner pointed out that even a great king like Yudhishtir because of his gambling spree gave away his entire kingdom, wife, and his brother in a game of dice. The Petitioner emphasized that the same will happen if the state allows online gambling. 

The PIL stated that Manusmriti, the oldest code of law states that betting is an act of open theft, treachery, and embezzlement of wealth, respect, and status in society. Moving forward, Petitioners brought a report of the Law Commission which concluded that gambling is a social evil and should be looked down upon. 

The Petitioner further contended that there was a pretty good chance of gambler’s credit details being leaked online as a risk attached to it and it may also lead to health disorders, physical as well as mental, as one has to behave sedentary for a long time and further waste time by playing.

Petitioner then warned that the trap of ‘easy money’ would also engulf minors and college kids. The massive revenue collected by the State on the garb of online gaming would only hurt the people both mentally and physically. The cost was too high when stakes were considered. Petitioner also added that the previous government had banned online lotteries in 2007.

The Petitioner asked the Court to issue a Writ of Certiorari to quash the State’s permission granting GTC to conduct online gambling and an interim stay over the approval.

The Court’s Decision

The Court issued a notice and questioned the Karnataka government on the law based on which it allowed the BTC to conduct online betting, awaiting their response. 

Click here to view the Judgement.


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