Positioned in the South Western region of India, the Karnataka state is the seventh largest state by area and eighth largest state by population. It is holding a potential portion of Indian gambling industry and looking forward to becoming the fourth state to legalise gambling. In this agenda, state tourism is now rolling its dice on two new sectors; i.e., cruises and offshore casinos on its coastline. Including Tadri, Malpe, Karwar Belekeri, Old Mangaluru and New Mangaluru, Karnataka tourism is now targeting six ports along its coastline. We must know that the Goa is the only state in India which is offering floating casinos. Goa’s casino tourism is earning more than 120 Crore yearly. As believed, offshore casinos in Karnataka will receive a lot of interest and acceptability. At the same time, the tourism department is also exploring two options for cruise tourism.
Indian State Karnataka is famous for having a pub culture where a significant portion of working professionals prefers to spend their evenings in a bar. It is among those states which ban all forms of lottery gaming in 2000. After this ban, a mobile lottery racket was being discovered by the State Excise and Lottery Enforcement Cell. The newly introduced single-digit lottery was the main reason behind this prohibition. This lottery had strongly attracted labour and lower middle class to spend a significant portion of their salaries on buying lottery tickets. However, the state governments were given the powers to make rules under the Lottery Regulation Act of 1998.
HORSE RACE BETTING
As we all know, horse race betting is continuously pushing the gambling business in Karnataka. Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) is approaching it by hosting (under the Mysore Race Course, Licensing Act, 1952) a full season of thoroughbred horse racing. This game prompts its players to judge the horse breed along with their performing ability. However, the Supreme Court has declared betting on horse racing as a game of skill. Under a mutual arrangement (in May 1973) with Royal Western India Turf Club Limited, the Government of Karnataka has permitted BTC to conduct off-course betting. The settlement was aiming to help the state government in earning revenue and creating employment. It was also looking forward to preventing illegal betting. At present, the Bangalore Turf Club prefers 217 off-course betting days and receives more than 12 lakh daily.
It is true that the aspirants of horse racing enjoy the privileges of placing wagers in Mysore and Bangalore race tracks, but cricket betting is still illegal across the state. Including the Karnataka State, sports betting has always been a grey area in India. The state is rolling a business worth $60 billion even though the sports betting are behind the legalisation bar. Owing to its tax benefits, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has urged the Central Government to legalise sports betting multiple times. Indian Premier League is perhaps Asia’s the most popular cricketing event, held in India. Match-fixing allegations in this game led to hundreds of bookies in Karnataka. If we talk about the cricket betting hubs in Karnataka, Bangalore, Mangalore, Manipal, Hubli, and Gulbarga are the leading names.
When it comes to the card games like poker, rummy, etc.; this Indian state has an extended following. Bangalore is the lead name in this context as the state has mushroom a considerable number of poker and rummy clubs in this city. The poker rooms located in the Bangalore City have attracted many online poker players from different parts of the state. Under Justice AS Bopanna, Karnataka High Court had declared that the recreational clubs could offer the poker game without any license. In adherence to the decision made by Karnataka High Court, poker is a skill based game. The decision was made on Oct. 8, 2013. “Having taken note of the fact that in respect of the game of poker is played as a game of skill, license is not contemplated and further keeping in view the fact that permission, in this case, had been obtained in that regard, the petitioner would be entitled to conduct such games provided, the same is in accordance with law,” justice AS Bopanna expressed. Apart from poker, the Rummy game also received an initiation from the Supreme Court. According to the SC, both are games of skill. Bangalore police shut down hundreds of sports and recreation clubs in 2013. So, the HC also instructed the Police Department to avoid interfering the running of lawful activities by the recreational clubs.
To make a barrier around the lottery game Matka (popularly known as Satta) and cricket betting, the government of Karnataka is planning to bring an anti-gambling legislation. “We will introduce legislation with strong provisions to deal with this scourge that is ruining the lives of lakhs of families all over the state. The legislation will provide for strong punishment for those running such rackets as well as those indulging in such activities. It will be introduced in the next assembly session,” home minister KJ George said. This act will bring good news for the Visvesvaraya Technological University. The assembly had already passed Visvesvaraya Technological University (Amendment) Bill, 2015. It will help the university to get tax exemptions under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
The Law Commission noted that both gambling and betting are closely associated. Will licensing help the government earn tax revenue and generate employment? To cut illegal activities, the commission officials wanted to create opinions on betting legalisation. Justice Chauhan wrote in the signed public appeal, “Families are rendered bankrupt, and many people are behind bars. Online gambling and betting is another area which has become very difficult to curb. It is understood that a lot of money is involved in the illegal gambling business, creating almost a parallel economy, converting legally earned money into black money that is drained to gambling operators in other countries online.”