Recently, the Indian sports industry was all over the news because of the increasing number of betting scams. Cricket – the most widely enjoyed game in India – has been at the forefront of most of these scams.
Of the most memorable in recent times are the betting scams related to the IPL cricket league.
In India, the Public Gaming Act 1867 prohibits any form of gambling or betting aside from lottery, rummy and horse racing. Any person found indulging in any illegal betting activity is penalised and slapped with a jail term. But this does not deter bettors from messing with the law and with important tournaments.
During the hearing of the Indian Premier League corruption case, the Supreme court of India asked the Law Commission about managing corruption arising from such scams. The LCI responded with a proposal to legalise betting and a framework to make gambling, as well as betting on sports, legal. This, they suggested, will prevent rising money laundering and fraud.
Betting and gambling in India mostly happen under the table and are routed through the underworld. Legalising gambling and betting can stop the flow of funds to the underworld, making the country a safer place.
On the other hand, the gambling market in India is massive. Research pegs it at about $50 – $60 billion or even more. After legalising these activities, the government will have a significant amount as taxes that can be put to use in sectors of health and education.
One of the most important benefits of legalising gambling and betting would be the jobs the industry will generate. It has the capacity to generate about 25 – 40 lakh jobs. This can be a boon for a country with a demographic like India.
Here is a glimpse of what the Law Commission proposed –
1. A committee led by former Supreme Court Judge BS Chauhan said that the parliament could come up with a model law to regulate an evolved, legal version of gambling. This could be adopted by various state governments a per their capacity
2. The commission has also suggested making all transactions cashless to regulate illegal activities at the source as well as the destination of money. For a more secure process, it also suggests linking Adhaar and PAN IDs of individuals participating in betting or gambling
3. The committee also suggests having a cap on the number and amount of transactions an individual can make during a regulated time period. The regulations, as suggested, can either be yearly, half-yearly or monthly
4. The panel suggests some people may be excluded entirely from participating in such activities. Those who are on government subsidies, underage or do not fall within the purview of Income-tax should be debarred from participating
5. The committee suggests the amendment of the law relating to FDI and foreign exchange. This will allow accommodating more investment in the casino and gambling industry
6. The commission stated that for states that legalise gambling and betting, more foreign investment would take place, opening up better economic avenues, fostering tourism growth and generating more revenue for the government. States that allow establishments to legalise these activities are likely to prosper if they manage it well
7. The commission also appealed that all the gambling or betting related websites should advertise appropriate content. Pornographic or objectionable content should not be published or promoted by instant play casinos
8. Even though gambling and betting are allowed in Goa, Daman and Sikkim, there is an enormous underground industry running nationwide. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) estimates this industry to be at Rs 3,00,000 crores
Gambling culture dates back to the Mahabharata when the Pandavas and the Kauravas sat to play a round of “chausar”. Gambling is mentioned in India’s ancient epics. It is happening any way and so it is high time that it is legalised. Legalisation is in the best interests of those who want to play legally and enjoy the game, as well as the government, which can expect to gain significant revenue through betting.
Instant play casinos are in the grey area when it comes to the law, because of the absence of any law that governs or regulates it. At times, it does put Indian players at risk of being exploited by fraudulent sites. Legalising betting and gambling in India would be a step in the right direction for the welfare of the country.