India is reportedly getting “serious” about legalising sports betting.
While the idea has been considered for quite some time, India’s Law Commission, is now open to reviewing the regulations which makes sports betting, and other wagering activities illegal.
According to the Hindustan Times (HT), the Indian gambling market is estimated to bring in INR 300,000 crores a year. As a result, the government is considering making gambling activities legal to have more control over the money.
“Regulation and taxation can yield large amounts of revenue for the exchequer and check crime,” Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) director, Maj Rajpal Singh told the HT.
Sports betting and most forms of gambling is illegal under the Public Gambling Act 1867, and while it is over 100 years old it is still enforced, although the figures suggest policing is targeted at best.
Skill-based gambling is legal, with both Rummy and horse race betting falling under this category in India.
Since computers weren’t invented when the legislation was drawn up, online gambling is a grey area and while considered illegal, consequences aren’t enforced.
“It is already happening (gambling) through the internet and it is hard to stop in the absence of an updated law,” a member of the Commission said.
Regulation will enable the government to have more control, while allowing betting on cricket and other sports.
Indian states also have the power to enforce policies to allow gambling but only two states, Goa and Sikkim, have legalised land-based casino gambling while no states have legalised sports betting.
But insiders have told us if the panel does agree to review the laws, a gambling bill could see sports betting legalised all over the country.
This isn’t the first time rumours the panel could decriminalise gambling have circulated.
Chairman of the Law Commission of India, retired Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, revealed last year the panel was “examining all legal aspects of betting in sports.”
In July last year, the Lodha Committee submitted recommendations to legalise sports betting via an enacted legislation which were accepted by India’s Supreme Court. The recommendations detailed sports betting and match fixing weren’t in the same league, which the magistrates agreed with.
While they approved the recommendations, the magistrates chose to pass the buck to parliament as the issue “involves the enactment of a law which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the government.”