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Should Sports Betting and Gambling be legal in India?

Author: Ritwij Shrivastava

Designation: Student, Dr. D.Y. Patil Law College, Pune University

Contact: +91-79*******

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Sports betting and gambling is a game of prediction in which an individual predicts certain results before the actual outcome. In some countries sports betting is considered legal but in our country, i.e., India betting is considered illegal.

Before coming to a conclusion that whether betting should be legalised in a developing country like India we must take into consideration certain aspects like history of betting cases in India, scope of betting in India pros and cons of legalizing and not legalizing betting in a developing country like India.

Firstly, I would like to discuss the present status of the countries where sports betting is legalized, discuss now it should be legalized in a country like India and discuss the paradigm if its legalized. There also need to be some provisions with regard to betting laws in India and for that we need to look into the provisions of betting in countries where its legalized.

In India only betting on horse racing is allowed by the law commission. In most of the European nations sports betting is legal and has also been one of the major source for generation of revenue countries like UNITED KINGDOM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, MEXICO, SOUTH AFRICA, GHANA ETC., where sports betting is legal in these countries. The biggest market is in the UK , Spain and Germany. Talking about legality of betting in the mentioned countries it is bifurcated into online betting, in some places either one of them is allowed or both are allowed. There are different legal provisions in the countries where betting is allowed and there are different ways as well how sports wagering takes place like in the US, Nevada had a monopoly for sports betting.

Legalization of sports betting has always been good for the economy of the country. Huge amount of revenue is received by the government through gambling countries where betting is legalized are evident examples of gambling as a source of revenue for the government .

So, now coming to the pros and cons of sports betting in the countries where it's legalized, The major advantage is that its revenue generation method from the government through taxation. Secondly, it is also a source of employment generation. Thirdly, it also boosts advertising and its commercial success attracts more betters leading to more revenue.

Now discussing the cons it majorly leads to addiction of betting and greed for more money especially among the youth. Secondly, it sometimes also leads to match fixing, many players and betters have been caught under the racket of match fixing. There is always a suspicion of match fixing in third division matches. Thirdly, it sometimes also leads to illegal betting which doesn’t come under the legal framework. It sometimes also leads to top issues like addiction among women, people of lower strata spending their pension on the slot machines, corruption, etc .Laws of the country with regard to betting to be made keeping in mind the cons of betting.

Now, discussing the present statics of betting in our country, i.e., India though its illegal in India except betting on horse racing, lotteries and casino gambling though there have been many cases with regard to betting.

There are nine courses in India formally run by turf authorities , lotteries and casinos are selectively allowed only in a handful of states and UT’s . betting parlour is illegal in India. While online gambling is unregulated in only one state, i.e., Sikkim has regulatory laws on online gambling .There is also a large underground legal market which is in operation, the biggest being the cricket market. According to an estimate by the federation of Indian chambers of commerce cited that the worth of Indian betting market is approximately $60 billion, 80% of it includes cricket betting.

Underground betting in cricket has led to two very big scandals in 2000, South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje, and in 2013, when three players in cricket’s IPL were arrested, these players were subsequently banned. The Supreme court of India set up a committee to investigate the BCCI’s administration and its structures.

This is an evident example that even though it’s illegal betting still happens like in 2011 world cup these were 44 arrests, On 12 august 2011, 16 gamblers and hotel managers were arrested over Teen Patti game in Ahmedabad ,etc . In order to prevent such things it would be better if betting is made legal and it works within the legal framework. We can consider the status of the foreign countries where betting is being legalized. If they are getting benefited by legalizing it then why not India. The mentality of the society changes from time to time.

In my view, there are a number of hurdles in legalizing gambling. The Supreme Court has mandated the Law Commission to look into the matter. The existing law was passed before the Constitution came into existence and it was a Central legislation. If Parliament wishes to legislate on the subject, it will be difficult to do so, as the subject of gambling figures in the State List. As a result, the Constitution will have to be amended first so that gambling can figure in the Concurrent List. Necessary infrastructure — police machinery, prosecutors, etc. — will have to be put in place.

The problem of online gaming cannot be curbed by merely amending the Information Technology Act where it finds a mention. There has been a steep rise in online gambling of late and governments are trying to find ways of curbing the menace. Relevant provisos will have to be made in the new Act if gambling is to be regulated. There will still be the issue of jurisdiction as online gambling goes way beyond India’s borders. How will you ensure that online gambling is safe and protects the interests and rights of players? It is easier said than done. In this context, the Supreme Court, in Board of Control for Cricket v. Cricket Association of Bihar & Ors (2016), mandated the Law Commission to study the possibility of legalising betting in India.














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