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Mobile Premier League, other online gaming apps block access as ban impacts Karnataka

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Sequoia Capital-funded Mobile Premier League (MPL) was one of the first few gaming startups to block access to users in the Indian state of Karnataka on Wednesday following a ban on online gaming.

The law, which went into effect late Tuesday, bans online games involving betting and betting, and “any act or risk of money, or otherwise including games of skill at an unknown outcome of an event.”

The latest ban has intensified concerns that increased state regulations could affect the emerging but booming gaming sector in India, where foreign investors have poured in millions of dollars in recent months.

On Wednesday morning, MPL’s gaming app showed messages to users in Karnataka that said: “Sorry! The law in your state doesn’t allow you to play fantasy sports,” “fantasy sports are closed,” and “cash games.” are closed.”

The gaming app offers fantasy cricket and football games and allows real money bets on them.

Dream11, one of India’s most popular gaming apps backed by Tiger Global, was still operational, but Paytm First Games was not.

Dream11 declined to comment, while MPL and Paytm did not immediately respond.

Karnataka, home to some of the world’s biggest tech companies and India’s tech capital Bengaluru, is the latest Indian state to ban such online games after Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu had also imposed similar restrictions, but its bill was struck down by its High Court.

An industry source had earlier told Reuters that these states are critical to the gaming business and account for about 20 percent of the companies’ total business.

All India Gaming Federation chief executive Roland Landers said, “The industry will challenge this in court and take legal recourse.”

Two other industry sources told Reuters on Wednesday that gamers and some companies are planning to file a court challenge against Karnataka’s new law.

The law imposes heavy fines and jail terms on violators and has been implemented amid growing concerns that online gaming platforms such as gambling are addictive and can cause financial harm.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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