The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) was happy to get approval from the Karnataka Government earlier this year allowing the club to offer online horse race betting.

BTC had earlier pushed for the government to give it approval to offer online horse race betting since COVID-19 restrictions prevented horse racing punters from showing up at the track and betting in-person.

BTC officials asked the government for help on multiple occasions saying that the club had suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 lockdown. BTC like any other horse racing clubs throughout India was struggling to stay afloat.

The top horse racing clubs in India pushed their respective state governments to make an exception and allow them to offer online horse race betting in order to be able to recoup some of their losses. The Karnataka Government heard their petition and initially ruled that BTC could offer horse race betting.

Karnataka Government Revokes Permission

BTC developed a mobile betting app and started accepting mobile bets from November 21. The move worked well for BTC and for horse racing punters who were unable to show up in person at the racetrack to place their bets. They made use of the BTC horse race betting app and a steady flow of betting started to come in.

The Karnataka Government suddenly decided that it needed to revoke the permission it had given BTC to offer mobile casino games. The government has informed the BTC to stop offering online and mobile horse racing bets. BTC has been informed to withdraw their mobile betting app with immediate effect.

There could be more than one reason why the state government’s decision to revoke BTC’s permission to offer mobile horse race betting.

However, one of those reasons is due to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) brought by Mr. Gopal who is a resident of Bengaluru. Gopal in his PIL alleged that online gambling has caused a lot of harm especially to the younger generation and individuals who have come from the villages.

PIL To Ban Online Gambling

The Karnataka High Court recently heard another PIL along similar lines. The PIL called for all forms of online gambling to be banned as it was a social evil and pushing individuals into debt and gambling related suicides. The state government sent a notice to the state government asking them to make a decision on banning online gambling completely or regulating the online gambling industry.

The state government is yet to make an official decision on the matter but given its stance on revoking BTC’s approval to offer horse racing betting, it appears that the state government is more inclined to ban online gambling than to regulate the industry.

BTC wasn’t very happy to have its mobile betting approval revoked as it meant that another revenue stream has been blocked for the racing club. However, BTC officials decided to take things in a positive manner and said that this break will allow them to work with the developer and straighten out certain things with the mobile app.

They remain optimistic that the Karnataka government will once again allow them to offer horse racing betting. When they receive the new approval, they want to ensure the mobile betting app is ready and all of the minor tweaks have been completed.

Illegal Horse Race Betting Will Grow

Given the fact that horse racing clubs in India are unable to accept punters and most clubs don’t have permission to offer mobile horse racing betting, it appears that illegal horse race betting is going to grow in this environment.

On 11 December, the police arrested as many as 31 individuals in six different locations in Pune who were engaging in illegal horse race betting. If state governments do not allow mobile horse racing betting and race clubs cannot accept punters, expect more illegal gambling operations to crop up across India.

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