Considering the fact that it is almost impossible to prevent and control the boom in gambling and sports betting, the Law Commission of India (LCI) submitted a report yesterday to the law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wherein they clearly stated that a complete ban on gambling and betting on sports is not working and so it is time to overturn India’s stringent and outdated laws governing this.
“Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option,” the panel report read.
Currently, gambling and betting are legal only in a few places in India such as Goa, Daman, and Sikkim. Now the LCI wants it to be legalized everywhere in India. It has urged that the Parliament should make a law for regulating gambling and betting that may be adopted by the other states.
The current gambling laws in India already permit exceptions for ‘skill-centric’ gambling, i.e. horseracing, rummy, poker etc. In its efforts to take it forward, the LCI has now urged to grant similar exceptions for “other skill-centric games.” It has also suggested that Information Technology laws should be amended to ensure that the technical intermediaries are not prosecuted for transmitting or hosting content related to legal gambling activities. And to safeguard participants, the panel has urged that there must be a cap on the number of transactions in a specific period and PAN and Aadhaar Cards must be linked for these activities and all transactions must be cashless.
Commenting on this development, Mohit Agarwal, Co-founder of India’s largest poker site – Adda52.com, said, “India’s gambling laws already permit exceptions for skill-centric gaming such as poker, rummy etc. Currently, the companies in online skill gaming space are self-regulating to create a safe environment for users. We welcome LCI’s efforts to regulate online skill games to safeguard the users even more.”
The Law Commission of India has also recommended amending the laws governing foreign exchange and India’s FDI policy to allow FDI investments in the casino and online gaming industry. They believe that allowing FDI in the industry would bring substantial amounts of investment to those states that permit casinos, thus fuelling the growth of the tourism and hospitality industries, while enabling such states to generate higher revenue and employment opportunities.
Citing examples of legal betting and gambling in countries such as China, the LCI urged that the earnings from gambling and betting should be made taxable under the direct and indirect tax regimes. They believe that the money generated from imposing the Income Tax and GST on gambling will help the government to boost revenue and reduce problems in gambling behavior.
In 2016, the Supreme Court had asked the Law Commission of India to prepare a report regarding creating a law that would legalize betting in cricket matches. However, they went a step ahead and included gambling as they strongly believe that both gambling and betting are intertwined.