Gambling in India
Gambling in India is heavily restricted but the opposite is true online. Approximately 40% of internet users in India have admitted to visiting a gambling site - but not placing a bet. The sites were primarily for lottery, cricket and horse betting fixes. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 prohibits running or being in charge of a public gaming house. The penalty for breaking this law is a fine of 200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. Additionally, this Act prohibits visiting gambling houses. A fine of 100 or imprisonment of up to one month is the penalty. The Information Technology Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India and prohibits publication or transmission of information that can corrupt people. This includes online gambling and the punishment for such activities is much more serious than for offline gambling operations – the fine is 100,000 or imprisonment up to 5 years.
Despite the existing prohibitive legislation, there is extensive illegal gambling throughout the country. The Indian gambling market is estimated to be worth US$60 billion per year, of which about half is illegally bet. According to the Indian National Newspaper, the Chief Executive officer for the International Cricket Council (ICC) said he was in favour of legalizing sports betting. He believes the illegal funds profited are through underground bookies that used the money to fund terrorism and drugs.
Technology trends, in particular mobile penetration in countries such as India will be a substantial market opportunity for gaming operators once regulated. The parallel trends of significant mobile betting uptake in already regulated markets demonstrates the potential for channels such as mobile to become the primary form of customer engagement.
Online gambling is in its infancy in India, but Sikkim planned to offer three online gambling licences in 2010. This failed despite India being the most sought out country for online gambling. Sikkim also permits an online lottery, operated by Playwin, which takes bets from players throughout India. It is expected that other states will follow Sikkim shortly, thereby opening up a major online gambling market throughout India.
In May 2011 India passed the Federal Information Technology Act which tries to put a stranglehold on internet gambling. This new act, which covers gambling sites, holds the Internet Service Providers responsible for blocking offshore betting sites.
One of the biggest obstacles faced by sports bettors in India is the fact that depositing to foreign bookies is extremely difficult. Typically, the majority of users deposit to online bookies using Moneybookers or Neteller. Some attempts to deposit using a Visa or MasterCard may fail. The same is true of online bank transfers. In order to circumvent these blocks, savvy internet users have started to use ewallet services for depositing. These services add a middle layer to disguise the nature of transactions, enabling users to get around the blocks by first depositing to an ewallet and then using that ewallet to fund an online betting account in Rupees. This is important because it circumvents legal issues that may have arisen about Foreign Exchange law.
- Popularity of betting sites in India
- The Public Gambling Act, 1867
- Wanna bet?
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- Online Gambling in India
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