Karnataka govt bans online gambling, betting, CCB raids gambling dens after Congress MLA George writes to govt

Karnataka govt bans online gambling, betting, CCB raids gambling dens after Congress MLA George writes to govt

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Milind Dharmasena

Bengaluru: Even as the Karnataka cabinet on Saturday decided to ban online gambling and betting, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) conducted searches on several clubs and gambling dens in some areas of the city and seized cash of Rs four lakh, betting coins and arrested 104 persons involved in the activity.

The cabinet’s decision and CCB’s raids came a day after former Home Minister and senior Congress MLA K J George wrote to Home Minister Araga Jnanendra of two “Casinos” in his Sarvagnanagar constituency in the East part of Bengaluru. Initially, the police officers denied the existence of these casinos, but later conducted raids on several clubs and gambling dens in Halasuru, Indiranagar and Sampigehalli including the two which George had flagged off.

According to the police gambling dens were running illegally where games like Black Jack and Baccarat were played for high stakes. However, they were not casinos with slot machines, roulette tables but such gambling dens, they claimed.

George in his letter to Jnanendra had given the locations of the two ‘ ‘Casinos’in HRBR layout and Kammanahalli Main road. He said several families had become paupers because of the illegal gambling at these places and wanted them to be closed immediately.

In the cabinet meeting on Saturday, the state government decided to amend the Karnataka Police Act to bring the ban into effect. However, online lottery and betting on horses happening within or outside Karnataka can continue legally.

In February 2020, BJP MLA C T Ravi, who was the Tourism Minister in the Karnataka cabinet had stirred a controversy by suggesting various options for revenue generation. Along with suggestions to start a Buddha Trail, a Ramayana circuit, village and heritage tourism to showcase Karnataka’s culture, he had mentioned about having casinos. Ravi had to retract his statement following public criticism.

Defending his statement, Ravi had said he had only mentioned casinos to make it known that places like Goa, Macau, Las Vegas and Sri Lanka have greatly benefited through direct and indirect revenue from casinos. “It’s not just about running casinos, but the other industries that will develop along with them. From hotels, to taxis to airline companies, think of the number of people who will find employment with this,” he had asked. He had suggested establishing 15 casino centres across the state, including six in Bengaluru, three each in Mangaluru and Belagavi, and one each in three other cities.

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