Allow gambling in sports but regulate it, says law panel

The News

  • The Law Commission of India submitted a report to the government, saying that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option left is to regulate gambling in sports.


Summary of recommendations

  • Classification:
    • The commission recommended a classification of ‘proper gambling’ and ‘small gambling.’
    • Proper gambling would be for the rich who play for high stakes, while small gambling would be for the low-income groups.
  • Gambling transactions:
    • The commission recommended cashless gambling in sports as a means to increase revenue and deal a blow to unlawful gambling.
    • Restrictions on amount should be prescribed while using electronic money facilities like credit cards, debit cards, and net-banking.
  • Cap and link to Aadhaar:
    • The panel wanted the government to introduce a cap on the number of gambling transactions for each individual, that is, monthly, half-yearly and annual.
    • Transactions between gamblers and operators should be linked to their Aadhaar and PAN cards so that the government could keep an eye on them.
  • Regulation:
    • According to the commission, Foreign Exchange Management (FEMA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) laws and policies should be amended to encourage investment in the casino/online gaming industry.
    • Regulations need to protect vulnerable groups, minors and those below poverty line, those who draw their sustenance from social welfare measures, government subsidies and Jan Dhan account holders from exploitation through gambling.
    • Gambling websites should also not solicit pornography.
  • Benefits:
    • Such activities, if properly regulated would ensure transparency in the market, as also strike at the underworld’s control over the illegal and unregulated gambling industry.
    • Additionally, revenue so generated by regulating and taxing betting and gambling may become a good source of revenue, which in turn, could be used for public welfare
    • For that the revenue from gambling should be taxable under laws like Income Tax Act, the Goods and Services Tax Act.
    • Allowing gambling would propel tourism and employment.


Dissent note:

  • However, one of the members expressed strong dissent in a separate note filed with the government.
  • Against Supreme Court’s reference:
    • The member criticised the Commission for suomotu examining the issue of legalising gambling.
    • The Supreme Court had merely asked the commission to look into the narrow question of legalising betting in cricket and not sports as a whole.
    • The court’s reference had come in its judgment in the BCCI case involving illegal betting in IPL cricket matches.
    • Thus the issue of gambling has never been a subject of reference to the Commission.
  • Still a social stigma:
    • Socio-economic and cultural circumstances of the country are not pragmatic to accept legalised gambling activities as it is still treated as a social stigma.
    • Hence the recommendation of the Commission may lead to an unhealthy and unwarranted discussion.
  • Unethical & inequality:
    • No form of gambling can be permitted to save the future generations from treading unethical paths
    • A country as poor as India should not allow ‘legalised gambling’ on its soil. The move to legalize gambling would leave the poor poorer.
  • Vested interest:
    • The Commission’s report comes at a time when there is a vested interest in getting gambling legalised in the country.
    • This would favour the amassing of money clandestinely by a handful of game operators.


Legal status of gambling globally:


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