Lawmakers in India have begun taking a closer look at the country’s set of gambling laws. This week, the Delhi High Court discussed a petition to ban online gambling in India. The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) stated their case that a ban on online gambling is unfair and won’t help the country.
The court questioned the AIGF on numerous points. Today, we’re going to look at exactly what this group is calling for. We’ll also look at the current set of gambling laws throughout India. Let’s get into it!
To say that gambling laws in India are confusing is an understatement. Over the past century, lawmakers in India have taken numerous approaches to regulate land-based and online gambling. The first real set of gambling laws here came in 1867 under the Public Gaming Act. This set of laws stated that all forms of gambling in the country were completely illegal.
Interestingly, the Public Gaming Act is still considered by many to be the country’s only real gambling legislation. In 1955, the government passed the Prize Competition Act which addresses all games:
“in which prizes are offered for the solution of any puzzle based upon the building up, arrangement, combination, or permutation of letters, words, or figures.”
Some feel that the Information Technology Act of 2000 bans online gambling in the country. As you can see, there is major confusion as to what forms of gambling are actually legal here. Not long ago, the Indian government decided to allow all states to set their own laws on the gambling industry.
Most states have completely banned gambling. Only Goa and Sikkim have embraced the gambling industry. The real confusion is on whether or not gambling online is based on skill or chance.
At the moment, the legality of online gambling through foreign sites lies in a gray area. Some states have outright banned it, while others turn a blind eye. The Delhi High Court is now beginning to discuss this issue.
A PIL was filed on May 20th to completely ban online gambling in India. Almost immediately, the AIGF began pushing against this. This group believes that making online gambling illegal is unfair to the states with more lenient gambling laws.
Delhi High Court Chief Justice D.N. Patel questioned the AIGF on numerous points. Much of the discussion focused on whether or not gambling online was a game of skill or a game of chance. The AIGF argues that most of their online gambling options increase skill. The group pushing for an online gambling ban feels differently.
Justice Patel was quick to question the legitimacy of this statement.
“You (the AIGF) say gambling increases skill. What skill does gambling increase?”
The issue of taxes also came up. At the moment, gambling websites operating in India do not pay taxes to the government. According to the PIL, this leads to a loss of revenue and foreign exchange for the country.
There’s also concern that children will become addicted to gambling online. Regulation of online gambling is much harder than land-based gaming. The PIL believes that some sites actively target children with video game-like gambling options.
Back in May, Delhi’s High Court declined to ban online gambling in India. Justice Patel and Brijesh Sethi stated they need more information before a decision can be officially made. The PIL is certainly making its argument known.
This petition claims that gambling is already completely banned in the majority of states. It also claims that online gambling is more damaging to society than traditional brick-and-mortar gambling.
“ ‘Online gambling is a far worse evil than regular gambling,’ because its easily accessible, and can be played on the go. With advances in technology and increased internet access, even young adults and minors are susceptible to addiction to online betting. People can gamble savings away ‘without even leaving the house,’ ” it states.
At the moment, many of the top online gambling sites in Europe currently operate in India. Most of these websites offer a wide range of casino and sports betting options.
The call to ban online gambling in India continues. Delhi’s High Court has pushed back making an official decision until November. Make sure to stay tuned for updates on this situation!
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