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Is Fantasy Gaming Legal in Karnataka?

02:02 PM Nov 06, 2023 IST | thinkbigh
is fantasy gaming legal in karnataka

 Bangalore, November 06, 2023: In 2021, participating in fantasy games became a non-bailable offence in Karnataka. But in February 2022, the Karnataka High Court overturned an amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, which made operating and participating in fantasy gaming a non-bailable offence. Fantasy gaming is now legally allowed in Karnataka.

 Citing the amendment as ‘unconstitutional’, Justice Krishna S. Dixit stated that the judgement would enable the Karnataka state government to adopt a new law to impose restrictions on gambling, which leaves online fantasy gaming out of the ambit. Karnataka, along with Tamil Nadu and Kerala, has tried to lump fantasy gaming with online gambling.

 The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021 had previously made all forms of gaming linked to virtual or real-world stakes illegal in Karnataka. But this sparked outrage among many and several people spoke out in support of skill-gaming. Skill games are classified by law as those that require human cognisance to be excelled at and differ from those that are purely based on luck.

 Online gambling (which is a legal grey area on its own) is ruled by chance or luck usually. The player can hardly ever influence the result of a wager in a casino. That’s why online casino and sports betting fall under the purview of chance-based gaming. Skill-based gaming, however, is under the players’ control up to a certain point. Fantasy gaming requires a base of solid knowledge in order to win, and the skills can be honed to be better.

 “Once something is categorised as a game of skill, it does not fall under the ambit of gambling, and skill games enjoy constitutional protection of trade and commerce under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution," said technology and gaming lawyer Jay Satya.

 Fantasy sports in India are tipped to grow exponentially in the coming years, and any state that makes fantasy gaming illegal is bound to be left behind in the exciting times ahead. A 2020 report - ‘The Business of Fantasy Sports’ by the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) - and KPMG stated that as of March 2020, the net revenue of fantasy sports operators in the country was at $340 million and was scheduled to grow to over $3.7 billion by 2024 – a rise of over 10 times in less than 5 years.

 Even after such sites are banned by a state, the state has no way of ensuring that the law is enforced. Users tend to use VPNs in order to access betting sites and can easily hide their online presence to avoid being prosecuted. They may also end up at shady, harmful websites because the market is unregulated, and there’s no legal recourse if an operator is engaging in fraudulent practices.

 It is for the better that fantasy gaming is not illegal in Karnataka anymore. But online casinos and sports betting are still very much not allowed. If you are travelling outside of Karnataka, however, then you can use online casinos in most states of India. It is not illegal to use internationally based casino sites in India. However, it is recommended that you use a trusted review site like MyOnlineCasinos India to compare and find reputable, safe online casinos.


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