As per the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, the bill creates confusion and uncertainty for legitimate online fantasy sports businesses
Tabled on Friday, The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021, seeking to prohibit online gambling, betting and wagering in all forms has taken the online gaming community up by the storm. As per the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, the bill creates confusion and uncertainty for legitimate online fantasy sports businesses. “While the government’s concerns maybe valid, however, the Bill appears to be misguided since it penalises legitimate businesses by treating them at par with illegal online gambling, betting and wagering platforms,” FIFS stated.
The non-profit fantasy sports self-regulatory body’s legal experts claim that the Bill runs contrary to a catena of judgments delivered by the courts, highlighting the latest Supreme Court verdict that online fantasy sports does not promote or indulge in gambling or betting or wagering. “Online Fantasy Sports is sui generis i.e. a unique and independent legal class of digital sports engagement platforms based on officially sanctioned real-live sporting events. It appears that the Bill intends to treat unequals equally which would be in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution through an overbroad and ambiguous definition of ‘gaming’. Given the unique nature of fantasy sports, the FIFS members urge the government to respect and align with the judicial and constitutional protections provided to its business activities,” the body added.
FIFS has many of its member companies with operating offices in the IT and ITES hubs where they are creating and developing software and services products and technologies for the fantasy sports sector. According to a report by NITI Aayog on Online Fantasy Sports, the sector has the potential to create over 12,000 additional highly skilled engineering jobs in the next few years, attract an FDI of over Rs 10,000 crore and contribute over Rs 13,500 crores in taxes to the government. “FIFS and its members strongly believe that certainty is integral to the rule of law and hence the Bill needs to provide certainty and clarity to businesses, the investor community as well as consumers for the orderly growth and development of the industry. Such confusing signals from the Karnataka government could result in impeding the development of sports in the State. Therefore, on behalf of the members of FIFS, we request the Karnataka government to remove any ambiguity or uncertainty in the Bill to ensure continuity and growth of the fantasy sports sector in the State,” FIFS said.