The Law Commission of India, in its 276th report, has recommended legalisation of regulated betting and gambling activities, asserting that a complete ban has not been returning the desired results.
The report titled, “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India” states, “Having discussed the pros and cons of legalising regulated gambling and betting activities, it would be apt to say that the arguments in favour of the same far outweigh the arguments alluding to the immorality of these activities…
…Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option. Thus, if Parliament or the State Legislatures wish to proceed in this direction, the Commission feels that regulated gambling would ensure detection of fraud and money laundering, etc. Such regulation of gambling would require a three-pronged strategy, reforming the existing gambling (lottery, horse racing) market, regulating illegal gambling and introducing stringent and over- arching regulations.”
Supreme Court’s directive
The report has been formulated in furtherance of a Supreme Court directive issued in the case of Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Cricket Association of Bihar & Ors., wherein the Apex Court had mandated the LCI to study the possibility of legalising betting in India.
The Court had then observed, “… the recommendation made by the Committee that betting should be legalised by law, involves the enactment of a Law which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the Government for such action as it may consider necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
The LCI has, however, examined the legality of both, betting and gambling, opining that the two are closely associated with each other.
Difficult to curb it
The report acknowledges the fact that with the advent of online gambling and the anonymity that it ensures, it has become extremely challenging for countries to monitor or curb these activities. It then highlights the advantages of regulating such activities, claiming that this would not only ensure transparency in the market, but would also strike at the underworld’s control over the illegal and unregulated gambling industry. In addition, the revenue generated by regulating and taxing betting and gambling has been found to be a “good source of revenue” to be “used for public welfare”.
The report says, “Regulation would therefore, empower the authorised agencies to identify and prevent instances of gambling by minors and ‘problem-gamblers’ as well as save the public from any kind of inconvenience at the hands of the law enforcement authorities. It would also enable the Government to effectively curb the menace of black-money generation through illegal gambling.”
It therefore concludes that while States should completely ban “unlawful” betting and gambling, a complete ban has been counter-productive, resulting in a boom in black-money generation and circulation. Thereafter, recommending its regulation, the report asserts, “The argument that had gambling been regulated in the Mahabharat period, Yudhishtir could not have put his brothers and wife as stakes, perhaps Mahabharat could not have been there, is full of substance.”
Parliament has legislative competence to enact law
Model Law for States
Exempting other skill-centric games from prohibition
Responsibility of operators
Indian Licensed Operators for Gambling and Betting
Restrictions on stake amount
Proper gambling v/s small gambling
All transactions to be linked to Aadhaar Card/ PAN Card
Debarred from participating in gambling: Those who get subsidies/ do not pay taxes
No pornographic content on websites advertising gambling
Prominent display of risks
All transactions to be cashless
Income derived to be taxable
Encourage of FDI in gambling industry
Intermediaries to be held responsible for “illegal” gambling
Amendment in National Sports Development Code of India
Amendment of Indian Contract Act to allow legal transactions with licensed gambling operators
Laying down safeguards for casinos
Match fixing and sports fraud should be criminalised