The legalisation of gambling in India

Gambling is a cultural activity which has been an indispensable part of the local tradition for millenniums. The Britishers introduced cricket in the 1800s, which later came to be known as the most-watched Indian sport. Gambling was allowed, and the Indian population had become accustomed to the gambling houses which were present all around the country, running successfully for more than 300 years. Local authorities collected the tax on gambling, but after some time it became impossible to control the ever-increasing market, and the English government banned gambling under the Public Gaming Act of 1867 which prohibited people from visiting or running gambling houses. The law stated that anyone who does not follow the prescribed rules will be imprisoned for three months or will be fined two hundred rupees. The majority of the Indian population worked in the agricultural sector, where two hundred rupees was a massive sum of money. Nevertheless, In the urban areas, gambling shifted from these legal houses to underground betting dens away from the prying eyes of the government. In the villages and rural areas, people gambled on cockfights and ram fights which were a prevalent local sport.

Gambling houses

Given India’s quasi-federal nature of government, states are allowed to make their laws for gambling. They can choose to ban it or give it complete freedom. As of now, a total of three states and union territories allow gambling, and they are Sikkim, Goa and Daman & Diu. The Goa and Daman & Diu Public Gaming Act of 1976 said that gambling would only be allowed in casinos which have been incorporated as resorts and restaurants or offshore vessels, there can be no stand-alone casino. Sikkim has a total of two casinos and is the only state which allows sports betting. In 2009 the Sikkim government passed a rule that operators will be able to apply for a license for organising sports betting.  It also legalised playing with money in online casinos and offered grants for new websites.

Legalising gambling allows the government to keep the market under its control by adding hefty taxes. It is observed that legal gambling is popular in India only in states whose revenue comes from tourism. Tourists find new ways to spend money, and this gives a chance to the local government to boost their economies. Apart from Sikkim, all other states do not allow, wagering money on online casino games under the Information Technology act of 2000. Still, the problem with that is it leaves the subject of gambling in a completely grey area, the laws are interpreted differently by different courts, and it becomes easy to find loopholes in the law-making machinery and to exploit them.

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