As far as online gambling market in India is concerned, there are two opinions. For the older generation, gambling, they believe to be a game of deceit and evil. They mostly relate the gambling to the Mahabharata where Yudhisthira loses every possession in his life, including his life, Draupadi.
For the younger generation in India, most swear by the game of Poker, which is a means to earn easy money. Gambling is in Indian blood, the only fact is that the rules and games have changed.
In the ancient days, Indians loved to bet on horse races, cockfights and ram fights, now the trend has shifted to online games. Yes, it is true that online gambling is catching up in India. But it is a sad fact, that improper gambling regulations make India lose at least $1 billion USD every year.
So, Where is the Problem?
The problem relates back to the good olden days. In the 18th century, betting houses spread in Indian States under the British rule. It was the time when cricket was introduced as a gentleman’s game and also as a betting sport.
So, the British, in order to curb the number of betting houses, brought the Public Gaming Act in 1867. With India getting unified in 1947, and in 2019 with many States and Union Territories, the act has not been revised in many areas.
Goa and Sikkim differ and they have passed regulations regarding gambling games. In fact, Sikkim has got its own online lottery game, PlayWin. This is the main reason why online gambling has not been able to gain more popularity in India.
Betting On Cricket Offline
Cricket is a game loved by millions of Indians. And betting on cricket has been the fashion since the 18th century. But it is surprising to see that betting on cricket is considered illegal in India. Betting during the India-Pakistan match soars to great heights (as per an estimate, the amount goes to 20 million US dollars).
The Public Gaming Act of 1867 is still followed in the many Indian States such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh. There are many States which have strict laws but they are concerned only with gambling dens and brick-mortar houses. There is little mention of regulation concerning the online gaming industry in India.
Then there is Poker which has been licensed in three States, namely, Sikkim, Nagaland and West Bengal. But yes, the license is given only inside the boundaries of these three States. Goa goes a step forward in permitting gambling only in Government designated places (casinos).
Nagaland State has passed positive regulations on online gaming. No wonder the website https://www.purecasino.com/en/ has seen a good surge in registrations.
How can India Benefit from Online Gambling Regulations?
If the Indian Government puts forward a recent act legalizing all online gambling games with favorable regulations, it can earn a sizable share of the income. It is surprising to note that some games such as Rummy have been passed off as a game of skill.
Even horse racing has been accepted as a game of skill. But yes, as per the Income Tax Act, the winner has to pay a hefty sum of 30 percent to the Indian Government from the earned profits.
The Indian revenue will only grow after regularizing the laws:
- After the rules are completed, foreign operators can compete for the licenses for the investment of gaming houses as a commercial activity.
- Indian will get a lot of job opportunities in the gaming sector.
- Indian companies can team with foreign companies for investment.
So, What does the Indian Legal System say about Online Gaming/Gambling?
It is wise to look into the case fought in Delhi District Court between Gaussian Network Pvt Ltd and Monica Lakhanpal. As per the verdict of this case, please note the points:
- Online games can never be compared to real gambling games.
- An Indian citizen can face legal action if he/she attracts players with prize money
- A game if played with stakes, but relying on skills is not gambling.
- These are some points of confusion in India when it comes to online gambling.
Gambling is a Billion Dollar Industry
As per a survey, the total market of gambling (online and other means) is estimated to be around $60 billion USD.
Gambling In Other Countries
Italy as well as Great Britain have regulated online gambling and put forth a series of procedures favorable to the players. In the process, they found new means of taxable income. The other countries are also trying to jump into the bandwagon.
The Local Courts in many States are still to ascertain to decide if online gaming or gambling is still to be decided as a game of skill or as a game of assumption or chance. In this scenario, it is likely that not many foreign investors/companies or Indian businessmen will want to invest in online gaming or gambling business. The result, India loses more than a billion every year due to these imperfections.