Dream Sports founders Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain
Dream 11 founders: Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain | Courtesy: Fortune India

Dream11’s founders booked for violating Karnataka’s Online Gaming Act

Under the newly enacted Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, the state government has initiated a crackdown on online gaming. The Founder and Directors of the well-known ‘Dream 11’ online game platform have been booked by Bengaluru’s Annapoorneshwarinagar Police Station, according to media reports.

Dream Sports founders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth
Dream 11 founders: Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain | Courtesy: Fortune India

Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth, the Founders and Directors of Sporta Technologies Private Limited, which owns the ‘Dream 11’ fantasy sports app, have been charged as Accused Nos. 1 and 2. The police have taken action in response to a complaint lodged on Thursday by Manjunath, a resident of Nagarbhavi in Bengaluru.

According to the complainant, the Karnataka government amended the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, outlawing online games of chance and skill when money is at stake. He had looked through the Google Play Store to see how many online games had been removed. Except for ‘Dream 11,’ several companies have disabled their mobile apps.

Considering this, they have managed to bet on online games by promoting their online mobile gaming app titled ‘Dream 11’, according to the complaint. The users are still putting their money at risk by forming their own fantasy cricket team and losing significant sums of money, providing the accused an opportunity to earn by unlawful means, according to the complaint.

The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, was announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government, prohibiting all kinds of online games including wagering, betting, and gambling of any kind or form in the state. Online gaming is now a non-bailable punishable offense with a fine of Rs 1 lakh and up to three years in prison under the new legislation. In addition to restricting skill games, the Karnataka government has classified online games involving electronic methods and digital currency, as well as electronic funds transfers in conjunction with any game, as gambling.

The Governor has approved the proposed laws approved by both Houses of the Karnataka Assembly during the Monsoon Session. eSports platforms like Mobile Premier League (MPL), followed by Paytm First Games, were among the first companies to suspend operations in the State of Karnataka.

Online gaming and fantasy sports platform are now seeking to file a lawsuit challenging the new policy, similar to how online gaming operators received High Court relief against a state government order in Tamil Nadu.

According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the new regulation will harm the state’s reputation as a startup magnet and result in a significant revenue loss for the state exchequer. It claimed that the new legislation will benefit offshore gamblers. According to sources, the state boasts more than 100 gaming firms with a total workforce of 4,000 individuals.

The IPL Fantasy League is worth $1 billion, according to consultancy firm KPMG. With the approaching T20 World Cup, the fantasy cricket season in 2021 is likely to peak within two months (September 19 to November 14, 2021). The prohibition will be devastating for fantasy cricket fans in Karnataka, as the state is one of the top two fantasy sports markets in India, alongside Maharashtra.