Gambling in India

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Gambling in India is heavily restricted except for selective categories like lotteries and horse racing. Approximately 40% of internet users in India have admitted in the past to visiting a gambling site - but not placing a bet.[1] However, this position has changed significantly in the year 2014 as more and more people have started making cash bets upon prohibited betting and gambling activities in India.The critics of gambling claim that it leads to crime, corruption and money laundering while those in favour of a regulated gambling system in India argue that it can be a huge source of revenue for the state. It is noteworthy that casinos in Goa contributed Rs. 135 crores to the state revenue in 2013.[2]

Legality Of Gambling[edit]

Gambling is a state subject and only states in India are entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a central law that 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.[3]

Indian law classifies games into two broad categories viz. game of skill and game of chance. The Supreme Court of India has, for instance, held[4]

The game of Rummy is not a game entirely of chance like the ‘three-card’ game mentioned in the Madras case to which we were referred. The ‘three card’ game which goes under different names such as ‘flush’, ‘brag’ etc. is a game of pure chance. Rummy, on the other hand, requires a certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorised and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of Rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill.

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.[5] Further, online gambling is a banned offense in the state of Maharashtra under the "Bombay Wager Act".

Only three states allow casinos, Goa , Daman and Sikkim.[6] There are two casinos in Sikkim called Casino Sikkim and Casino Mahjong and 10 in Goa, of which six are land based and four are floating casinos that operate on the Mandovi River. The floating casinos in Goa are Casino Deltin Royale, Casino Deltin Jaqk, Casino Pride and Casino Pride 2. While the first two are controlled by the Deltin Group, the latter two are managed by the Pride Group. According to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 casinos can be set up only at five star hotels or offshore vessels with the prior permission of the government. This has led the Deltin Group to open the first land based Casino in Daman which is set to open soon. News reports also suggest that Vishakapatnam is also being looked on as the next casino destination.[7]

Online Gambling[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9][10]

Legalisation Of Gambling[edit]

Despite the existing prohibitive legislations, 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.[11] 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.[12] Many Indian professionals as well as online forums have urged the government to introduce legal but regulated gambling in India to bring the gambling economy out of the grip of mafia and underground dons.[13]

Payment Gateways[edit]

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.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Popularity of betting sites in India
  2. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Goa-casinos-contribute-Rs-135cr-revenue-in-2012-13/articleshow/19524670.cms
  3. ^ The Public Gambling Act, 1867
  4. ^ Sayta, Jay (January 1, 2012). "LEGALITY OF POKER AND OTHER GAMES OF SKILL: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF INDIA’S GAMING LAWS" (PDF). NUJS Law Review. Retrieved January 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ Wanna bet?
  6. ^ Patil, Ajit (28 May 2009). "Casinos in India". India Bet. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Casinos want to gamble on Visakhapatnam". Deccan Chronicle. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Sanjay, Roy (27 October 2009). "Indian online gambling market set to open up". India Bet. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  9. ^ Online Gambling in India
  10. ^ "GPWA Magazine". 
  11. ^ Thompson, James (27 October 2009). "Betfair and William Hill target India". The Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Sports Betting Favoured by ICC". CasinoOnline.net.in. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Ashok, Donnie. "Jay Sayta, Founder Glaws.in, on how he became an authority in Gambling Laws". Superlawyer.in. Superlawyer. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  14. ^ "Rupee Betting Sites and Law".