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Online Gambling in India

  • 04 May 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Online Gambling in India, Consumer Protection Act 2019, Public Gambling Act, 1867, Online Gaming.

For Mains: Online Gambling in India, its pros and cons.

Why in News?

Recently, the government of India has instructed states to take action against outdoor advertisements promoting online Betting and Gambling platforms.

  • The government had earlier issued an advisory to the media in June 2022, directing them to refrain from publishing such advertisements in the larger public interest.

What is the Government’s Observation?

  • The government has observed that some betting and gambling platforms are using outdoor media such as hoardings, posters, banners, and auto rickshaw branding to promote their websites/apps.
  • Such advertisements were found to be misleading and not in strict conformity with the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
  • Moreover, since betting and gambling are illegal in most parts of the country, they pose financial and social economic risk for the consumers, especially youth and children.
  • The government has objected to the promotion of a specific betting platform that encouraged people to watch a sports league on its website in prima facie violation of the Copyright Act.

What is Online Gambling?

  • Online gambling involves participating in gambling activities through the internet by placing bets or wagers on games and events to win money or prizes. It can be played on various devices and involves virtual chips or digital currencies instead of cash.
  • The global online gambling market was valued at USD 63.53 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.7% from 2023 to 2030, with the Asia-Pacific region being the largest market.
  • There are different types of online gambling, including casino games like slots, blackjack, and roulette, sports betting, poker, and lottery. It is regulated in most countries, including India, with varying degrees of restrictions and laws.

What's the Difference Between Online Gaming and Gambling?

  • Under the law, the distinction between gaming and gambling depends on the element of skill involved. If an online activity does not require skill, it will be considered gambling rather than gaming.
  • Therefore, according to the law, gaming activities that are allowed require skill, while gambling activities rely on chance.

What are the Concerns Related to Online Gambling?

  • Financial and Social Trouble:
    • Online gambling can be highly addictive, leading to severe financial and social problems. As it is easily accessible, players can spend hours playing games without realizing the amount of time and money they are spending.
  • Unregulated:
    • Online gambling is often unregulated, making it easy for fraudulent activities to take place. This can lead to players losing their money or their personal information being compromised.
    • Gambling has complex laws in India and is not available in most of the states. Each state has its own jurisdiction over gambling.
  • Means for Money Laundering:
    • Online gambling can be used as a means for money laundering, where players can deposit large amounts of cash into online accounts and then withdraw the money in a legitimate form.
  • Prone to Cyber-Attacks:
    • Online gambling sites can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which can lead to the theft of sensitive personal and financial information of the players.
  • Socially Detachment:
    • Online gambling can lead to social isolation, as players can spend hours playing games online, leading to a lack of social interaction with family and friends.

What are the Advantages of Online Gambling?

  • Convenience: Online gambling can be accessed from the comfort of one's own home or anywhere with an internet connection, making it more convenient than traditional gambling methods.
  • Accessibility: Online gambling is often more accessible for people with disabilities or those who have difficulty leaving their homes, allowing them to participate in gambling activities that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them.
  • Revenue Generation: Online gambling has the potential to generate significant revenue for the Indian government through taxation and regulation. Besides, the online gambling industry can create job opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs, who can develop and operate their own online gambling platforms.

What Does Indian Law Say About Online Gambling?

  • Public Gambling Act, 1867:
    • At present, India has just one central law that governs gambling in all its forms. It's called the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which is an old law, ill-equipped to handle the challenges of digital casinos, online gambling and gaming.
  • 7th Schedule of the Constitution:
    • Gambling in India is largely a state subject. This means states are expected to create their own laws to regulate gambling in their jurisdictions.
  • Laws in Various States:
    • States like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have adopted the Public Gambling Act with some amendments.
    • However, other regions like Goa, Sikkim, Daman, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, have drafted specific laws to regulate public gambling in their jurisdictions.

Way Forward

  • Online gambling poses challenges that need to be addressed by regulators and policymakers to ensure fair and responsible gambling.
  • The legal landscape in India is complex and varies by state, so individuals should be aware of their state's laws and only participate in licensed online gambling activities.

Source: TH

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