The Uttar Pradesh government has kicked off the process to enact a new law to regulate gambling, including online gambling, as the central government plans to scrap the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and mandate states to come up with their own laws to control gambling. This was first reported by Jagran.
AN Mittal, chairman of the state law commission told Hindustan Times that a draft law is being prepared to check gambling. “All aspects are being studied and looked into to make the law stringent. It will also have special provisions to check online gambling,” he said.
The commission is also examining laws of other countries to check online gambling. The proposed law is likely to make gambling a non-bailable offence punishable with a seven-year jail term.
The Public Gambling Act provides for a maximum sentence of one year and a penalty of Rs 1,000. According to a senior official quoted in Jagran, the scope and money involved in gambling, when this law was drafted, was limited. Currently, police have to rely on the Indian Penal Code and also obtain warrant from district police officials to act against gambling. The draft law will widen the scope of the gambling act and remove these hurdles.
With this, Uttar Pradesh will become the latest state to refresh its laws to address online gambling. While gambling is a state subject and states are free to form their own laws, many states fall back on the colonial-era Public Gambling Act, which differentiates between games of skill and chance, exempting the former from punishments. The act criminalises public gambling and running of a gaming house.
It remains to the be seen whether Uttar Pradesh will outlaw games of skill along with games of chance. Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, and Uttarakhand fall back on the Public Gambling Act.
Most recently, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala tightened laws around gambling, to bring online gambling within legal scope. Andhra Pradesh prohibited all games involving stakes, whether skill or chance based as did Tamil Nadu. Kerala tweaked its gambling law to remove a provision that declares rummy as a game of skill. Other states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh are also contemplating restrictions for online real-money games, gambling, and betting. Meghalaya has gone the opposite, it has created a licensing and regulatory regime permitting all games of skill and chance, in a bit to collect more tax revenue.