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‘No Systematic Action Against Offshore Betting and Gambling Websites’ in India, Says Report

A report studies the prevelance and harms of offshore betting and gambling sites in India, concluding that there’s a lot more to be done

‘Offshore Online Betting and Gambling in India: A Risk Assessment’, a report by the Esya Centre, argues offshore online betting and gambling sites seem to have evaded regulatory oversight in India. They often operate with impunity despite the fact that online betting and gambling are prohibited in India (barring Sikkim and Meghalaya). Many offshore gambling services also regularly violate content regulation, money laundering, and consumer protection laws too, harming Indian netizens in the process. As per the report, complaints against the sector are on the rise too—5,091 public complaints were filed between August 21st, 2019 and December 31st, 2021, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.  The report’s bottom line: ‘no systematic action has been taken [in India] against offshore betting and gambling websites’.  Why it matters: Failing to regulate offshore entities may disadvantage Indians at the receiving end of heightened psychological and financial gambling-related harms. These harms can range from financial ruin to gambling addiction to suicide. Recent government legislation, however, appears to curb the harms of online gambling services operating from India alone. Given that offshore gambling services violate a plethora of national laws, the report argues that the Union should develop laws that are ‘extra-territorial’ in their jurisdiction to govern them. Additionally, weak enforcement of national laws demands the formation of a nodal agency to regulate offshore online and gambling, as well as a centralised reporting system to raise complaints about them. Until such institutions are designed, blocking public access to these sites under Section…

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