Karnataka borders and bans: what's going on in this southwest Indian state?

 
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It’s a state famous for nightlife and technology: but recent crackdowns and border disputes have seen Karnataka thrown into the limelight for some rather unusual reasons. In this article, we’ll bring you up to date with everything that’s been going on in this part of India over the last few months!

Where is Karnataka?

If you’re unfamiliar with India, you might not know where Karnataka is. This state of India sits on its western side in the south of the country. It borders Kerala to the south, Tamil Nadu to the south east, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Telangana to the north east and Maharashtra to the north.

This is the heart of India, and it has historically been the centre of many of the nation’s great empires. However, today it’s more commonly known for being high-tech, with lots of shops and nightlife.

The Casino Crackdown

This means that the casino crackdown has been somewhat surprising. In India, different states have their own rules on gambling, and in some - like Goa and Sikkim - most forms of gambling is legal.

However, in September 2021, Karnataka passed an outright ban on online casinos in the state. They called these “online games of chance” and they include everything from online blackjack to virtual slot machines. The law bans partaking in, managing and accommodating any of these games.

Anybody caught gambling in this state can be fined up to $1,400 and sentenced to three years in prison.

What does this mean for Karnataka?

This has hit a lot of gaming start-ups hard. As this is such a tech-focused state, there are online start-ups in nearly every field you can think of, including gambling. Lots of companies have found themselves unable to operate.

Some companies, such as Dream11, have tried to dispute the ban, claiming that their games are “games of skill” rather than “games of chance”. “Games of skill” have some sort of planning or foresight involved, such as poker, whereas “games of chance” are based on pure luck, like online roulette.

However, a lot of companies who have appealed were unsuccessful.

This also means that some companies who operate in other parts of India will see a rise in business. After this news, other states have come forward and said that they will never introduce such bans. Plus, the gaming industry in all of India is set to grow 3x in 2022. So it isn’t all doom and gloom for India’s gaming sector - as long as you don’t live in Karnataka, of course!

The Belagavi Border Dispute

While the gaming industry of Karnataka has been reeling, there’s been another territorial problem.

The Belagavi border dispute has been going on for a long time - since 1956, to be exact. In the newly-independent India, the area of Belagavi was given to Karnataka. However, many of the residents were Marathi-speaking and had allegiances to neighbouring Maharashtra.

This is an ongoing conflict, and there have been large protests in Belagavi recently. The reason behind these protests seems to be that the statue of Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Shivaji was smeared with ink, which is disrespectful.

This has caused protests to break out, which have subsequently been banned, partially due to politics and partially due to COVID-19.

Banning of celebrations

Lastly, New Year’s Eve celebrations have been banned for the second year in a row. This is because of Covid and the new highly-transmissible Omicron variant. Restaurants and bars are allowed to open, but only at 50% capacity, and organised celebrations should stop completely. Residents are advised not to plan any parties.

As you can see, quite a lot is going on in Karnataka! Hopefully this article has helped to shed some light on the happenings in the southwest Indian state.

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