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Law Commission is inviting comments for legalizing online betting and gambling

Following the Supreme Court’s observations on sports betting, the Law Commission of India is also looking to study whether online betting and gambling can be made legal. The Commission has issued a public notice inviting suggestions and from stakeholders and the public.

“Online gambling and betting is another area which has become very difficult to curb. It is understood that a lot of money is involved in illegal gambling business, creating almost a parallel economy, converting legally earned money into black money that is drained to gambling operators in other countries online,” the commission noted.

The Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce and Industry (FICCI) estimates the total turnover of the betting market at Rs 300,000 crores ($60bn). If the government caps the 20% of the profits generated by gambling, the government stands to gain Rs 12,000- Rs 19,000 crore.

Currently, there are a number of websites offer bets on Cricket matches.The BBC points out that there even though there are no online betting operators based out of India, a lot of people have registered accounts with offshore firms and operators are using this to set up offshore betting companies.

The commission is asking stakeholders the following questions:

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– Will legalizing betting and gambling help in curbing the illegal activities undertaken by the citizens of our country in this regard?
–  Will licensing such activities help the Government earn substantial revenue and generate employment?
– How far will legalizing betting and gambling be morally correct in the Indian circumstances?
– What could be a possible model by which the people engaging in such activities can be safeguarded against bankruptcy?
–  If legalized, should foreign betting and gambling companies be allowed to have a foothold in the country?

Sikkim gambling licenses 

Note that the state of Sikkim issued online gambling licences in 2010 but only over an intranet, blocking access from the rest of India. The state government of Sikkim has authorized four gaming and lottery licenses – to Sugal & Damani Group, Future Gaming Group and Essel Group’s Playwin and  Golden Gaming

How to regulate in India

Interestingly, International Research Association of Computer Science and Technology (IRACST) had published a paper on how sports betting could be legalized in India. It had recommended a national regulatory body which could regulate disputes. This body would have the power to void a particular bet and have power and prosecute individuals making illegal bets. It will also devise guidelines and dispense information to the public about betting including listing events on which bets can be placed. The regulator will have powers of entry and inspection into operator’s premises and online networks and to have cooperation from operators.

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