Should Betting Be Legalized In India?

Introduction

A fundamental aspect of human nature is betting. It permeates every aspect of Indian society. People view it as a respectable form of recreation, whether be horse racing wagering or street animal fights. Despite the fact that it’s against the law to bet on sporting events, such as cricket matches, many people still do so and end up losing money.[i] Due to their inability to recognize appropriate time to stop, people get trapped in gambling cycle.

Gaming Sector in India

[Image Sources : Shutterstock]

If the players know how to play patiently and strategically, gambling or betting is not a bad trap. “Betting” in sports refers to the act or practice of speculating the results of athletic events.[ii] Sports are now very popular, and betting makes them lucrative, albeit illegal, industry worth millions of dollars. Sports including cricket, hockey, football, horse racing, and badminton all have results that can be gambled on, with cricket betting being most common in India. The author will evaluate the state of sports betting in India at the moment.

Current status of betting in India

The Public Gambling Act of 1867 forbids gambling under the current legal system.[iii] As defined under Section 2(b) of the legislation, gaming includes wagering or betting but excludes lotteries. The law that was in effect in India’s territory before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue to be in effect there, unless it’s altered, repealed, or amended by competent legislature or other competent authority, according to Article 372(1) of the Indian Constitution. This is true even though the enactments mentioned in Article 395 are repealed by this Constitution. The seventh schedule of the Constitution’s Entry 62 State List grants state legislature, the power to create tax and gaming regulations.

A multimillion-dollar underground industry exists for sports betting. Additionally, the FICCI projected that in 2016, the illicit market was valued approx. Rs. 10 lakh crores.[iv] Even if legalization doesn’t entirely purge gambling sector, mandating that operators maintain both electronic and physical records would be beneficial. Thousands of young individuals are employed nationwide by this uncontrolled sector.

Why betting in sports be legalized?

The illicit gambling and gaming sector in India is substantial economically, and this is one of the main justifications for legalizing and regulating it.[v] As previously stated, illicit gambling is quite prevalent in India, with betting on athletic events being the most common kind. Both the money and number of individuals engaged are enormous. Criminal organizations handle unexplained funds gained through gaming operations, which are used for evil purposes like financing terrorism.[vi] Legalizing betting will not only stop it, but the government may also use the revenue generated for variety of beneficial social programmes. The number of participants is one of the main points of contention. Of course, this is the same justification offered by those who support legalization/regulation of both narcotics and prostitution.[vii] The huge number of “lawbreakers” and the ensuing possibly enormous time drain on police if law is effectively enforced makes it extremely difficult to enforce these laws.

In Humphrey v. Viacom[viii], the plaintiff argued that because the points received by the players are mostly decided by chance, taking into acc injuries and other random situations, the entry fees paid to participate in these games are sort of wager. The court rejected the petition, stating that selecting players for a virtual team involves a lot of analytical skill and knowledge.

The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion of Online Games of Skill Act, 2005 was adopted in Nagaland, India, and it covers fantasy sports as a “game of skill.”[ix] A ruling from the High Court of Punjab and Haryana[x] declaring Dream 11 to be predominantly a skill-based game. The High Court rejected the petition, drawing parallels to the R. Lakshman ruling in its decision. It went to say that participating in fantasy sports requires a person to have high level of analytical skill, prudence, and judgement. The court accepted respondent Dream 11’s arguments that participation in fantasy sports requires the ability to evaluate match circumstances.

The following are some possible actions the government might take

  1. As gaming is under the purview of the state government, a constitutional change would be required. Therefore, it should first be included to concurrent lists so that parliament can pass legislation on the topic without any obstacles.
  2. In order to safeguard public interests and prevent harm, the government should limit the number of transactions permitted within a certain time frame and keep an eye on the risks involved by tying account to either PAN or AADHAAR cards.[xi]
  3. The government should enable FDI in this industry to avoid financial strain on states that want to establish casinos and other forms of gaming. So that money may be invested in each state’s infrastructure and other needs. This will increase tourism, which will increase employment opportunities and state revenue.

Conclusion

In my opinion, there isn’t a strong case for legalizing betting in India now. Even if India were to consider such shift in policy, there are number of significant and difficult steps that must be taken first. I arrive at this conclusion that, at this time, the how (how can it be legalized) question has to be given less consideration than the why question (why should betting be permitted). Through well planned ethnographic and epidemiological research, the why question should be supported by empirical facts. Numerous courts have consistently maintained in their rulings that wagering on sports like cricket, football, and hockey requires knowledge and ability of the person placing wager, much like in horse racing. Legalizing sports betting will aid in controlling this disorganised sector and the dangers arriving from underground markets. If the sector is legally controlled, the government can acquire money as taxes. Legalizing sports betting in India will enhance tourists, tax income, and employment. In India, legalizing sports betting is unquestionably necessary.

Author: Tanisha Jain, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney

REFRENCES

[i] https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2966-should-gambling-be-legalised-in-india-.html

[ii] file:///C:/Users/hp/Downloads/Legalization-of-Betting-in-Sports-in-India.pdf

[iii] The Public Gambling Act, 1867

[iv] Legalization-of-Betting-in-Sports-in-India.pdf

[v] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0253717620928761

[vi] https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2966-should-gambling-be-legalised-in-india-.html

[vii] Chatterton E. History of the church of England in India since the early days of the East India Company, London

[viii] 2007

[ix] Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, (2016)

[x] Sri Varun Gumber v. The Union Territory of Chandigarh & Ors, 2017

[xi] https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2966-should-gambling-be-legalised-in-india-.html

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