India Studying Potential Impact of Gambling Legalization
Posted on: May 31, 2017, 08:43h.
Last updated on: May 31, 2017, 08:58h.
India is undertaking a comprehensive study of gambling in its current context, to determine whether or not legalization could be in the best interests of the diverse nation of 1.3 billion people.
India’s Law Commission, a group charged with thoroughly researching matters subject to legal reform, has been looking closely at how other countries regulate legal gambling, how people in India participate in illegal gambling, and the financial benefit and social concern of both legal and illegal gambling.
The three-person panel is putting together a series of papers to address concerns and understand its impact. The research could result in small legal reforms or a total overhaul to India’s gambling laws.
Additionally, the commission is seeking public input to share their stories and views on gambling. Included in the research also is “betting,” referring to sports and pari-mutuel wagers. India sees these forms of wagers as different from “gambling,” which covers slots and traditional casino games. But for the sake of this research, the commission said it would be impossible to assess one without considering the other.
At a minimum, the research stands to provide a rather thorough model for assessing the potential and pitfalls for betting and gambling in the 21st century.
Illegal since 1867
The issue came to the fore with a match fixing scandal in the case of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) vs. Cricket Association of Bihar. That trial touched on sports betting and match fixing and the Supreme Court called on the Law Commission to explore what might be different if the country looked to legalize gambling.
The Public Gambling Act of 1867 set the standard for India’s opposition to public gambling. The law that harkens back 150 years to the days of British rule. India’s constitution, however, does let states make some decisions on their own, which is why Goa, Daman, and Sikkim all have casinos.
But there are many gray areas to the law. For example, horse racing and rummy are defined as games of skill and are legal, while betting on cricket or playing poker is outlawed, except in states where it’s not.
The appeal for public input seeks to have several opinions and anecdotal testimony that explores both economic and social impacts of legalized gambling and betting.
Though the commission hasn’t yet made specific recommendations, they did find the possibility of considering legalization as a way to minimize social harms.
“Various media reports time and again point out that betting and gambling, though not legal in India, is practiced across the country clandestinely,” the commission said. “These reports argue that many families are rendered bankrupt and many people are behind the bars owing to these practices. Strict rules against betting and gambling have not necessarily acted as a deterrent.”
The commission estimates that India gamblers spend $30 billion annually on illegal forms of betting and gambling that they have found to be run by cartels and gangs.
“Will legalizing betting and gambling help in curbing the illegal activities undertaken by the citizens of our country in this regard?” they asked. “Will licensing such activities help the government earn substantial revenue and generate employment?”
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