Gambling is everywhere in India, and almost forms part of the culture. Though it is not clear when it started, gambling features significantly in the Indians religion. Dice extracts found in excavations in Harappa sites of ancient civilization indicate the history of gambling in India.
Indians practice gambling on an upper level during festivals like Holi and Diwali. Many theories of divine nature exist to endorse such undertakings, perhaps. The practice registers a business upgrade of about 30-40 percent.
Police raids are frequent during the festivals though courts are lenient in the definition of festival gambling as a crime. Generally, some states are stricter than others.
India ranks second in the most significant number of internet users in the world, ranking behind China and above the United States. These statistics point to the increased online activities in India that have played a significant role in the growth of online gambling.
Cricket, horse racing, football, and tennis are among the most popular sports betting games. Playing poker and casino gambling are popular pastimes in India today, though behind sports betting.
Law Commission of India Efforts and Current Legal Status
The present legal scene in regards to gambling is hypocritical. At racecourses, for example, bookmarkers offer services legally with operators providing pool betting. Betting parlors exist in many parts of the country, and horse race betting is legal on the assumption that it needs special skills to know and pick a winning jockey and horse.
On the other hand, online gambling is a banned offense in Maharashtra state –under the Bombay Wager Act. Other cities rely on gambling laws from over 100 years ago. Current regulations permit exceptions for skill-centric gambling like fantasy sports betting, poker, and horse racing, among others.
In 2018, the Law Commission of India (LCI), which is an executive body of the government, urged the Indian government to legalize betting and gambling. Through a detailed report, LCI recommended legalizing gambling and sports betting to increase government revenue as well as reduce gambling addiction.
Today, it’s technically legal to play online casinos in Indian, although the market is not regulated. The legalization of the practice will ensure better rules to make the games safer and administration better.
LCI, in their report, distinguishes between “small” and “proper” gambling, where small refers to lower gambling stakes. The commission recommended the introduction of income thresholds where people with low income or those on social assistance barred from any form of gambling. Recommendations from the LCI gives hope to the gambling community.
Even in the case of arrest over gambling, the punishments are modest, like 1-3 months imprisonment or 100-200 rupees in fines.
IT Act of 2020
This Act made provisions for offenses relating to online activities, though there is no mention of online gambling as illegal. Through this Act, the government has the power to block foreign sites. However, the government uses the clause to instruct ISP providers to refuse Indians from accessing foreign gaming and betting sites.
In most cases, the operators block the services in India as you are likely to see a pop-up message like ‘our platform/services are not available in your area.’ Plenty of online casinos offer online gambling services to the Indian audience.
Lotteries (Regulation) Act of 1998 allows the state governments to lay down tax clauses within their jurisdiction. If you win, though out of sheer luck, the government will tax you as they can trace you easily. ‘Legal’ gambling games like Rummy automatically deduct tax from the winnings.
Reserve Bank of India presents one of the most significant hurdles for gamblers by limiting payment options. RBI restricts banks and payment gateways to process gambling and online casino sites related transactions.
The majority of gamers resort to other cash transfers options like Neteller or Skrill. E-Wallet services are efficient means of money transfer in India.
Developed countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain have found ways to legalize betting and online casinos while protecting its citizens from succumbing to the dark side of it.
With the historical connection to gambling, a surge of internet users in India, and the strides made by lawmakers, outlawing online gambling is impossible.
Online gaming is legally a grey area in India. The government needs to address pain points like money laundering, addiction, gambling responsibly, and taxation. This will create an environment for people to gamble with ease and create fun with less worry about the negative side.