Junglee Games, which operates Junglee Rummy, Junglee Teen Patti, and fantasy gaming platform Howzat, is the latest firm to approach the Karnataka High Court appealing against the state's online gambling law that came into effect on October 5.
Online betting giant Flutter Entertainment, which was created by the merger of Irish bookmaker Paddy Power and gambling firm Betfair, had acquired a majority 50.1% stake in Junglee Games in March this year.
With this, the company will be joining several real-money gaming firms Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games24x7, A23(Ace2Three), and Gameskraft and skill gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation, each of whom have filed similar petitions against the Karnataka government, as reported by Moneycontrol on October 8.
These firms have challenged the constitutional validity of amendments made to the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act that was reportedly approved by governor Thawar Chand Gehlot earlier this month. The law had outlawed all forms of online gaming where transfer of money is involved.
The amendment came against the backdrop of public interest litigation filed in the Karnataka High Court to prohibit online gambling. However, it removed the distinction between the game of skill and game of chance, thereby bringing skill-based gaming startups under its purview.
Meanwhile, another public interest litigation has been filed before the Karnataka High Court seeking to prohibit the offering and playing of fantasy sports that are compliant with Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, a self-regulatory industry body. The petitioner Saahil Nalwaya has also sought making it a criminal offence under the Karnataka Police Act.
Moneycontrol was the first to report on October 6 that several gaming platforms including MPL, Games24x7 (RummyCircle, My11Circle), Ace2Three, and RummyCulture among others had started blocking access to residents in Karnataka after the state government notified the online gambling law with immediate effect on October 5. Fantasy sports major Dream11 also suspended operations on October 10.
Over the past year, several Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have banned or tried to ban real-money games. Madras High Court had struck down the suspension order in August while Kerala High Court overturned the Kerala government’s order last month. The Supreme Court also upheld fantasy sports as a game of skill in July this year.
India had around 80 million real money gamers in 2020, which is expected to grow to 150 million by 2023, according to an EY-All India Gaming Federation report. The industry will be worth $2 billion by 2023 in terms of rake fees earned, the report said.