The world is certainly moving towards a more liberal viewpoint towards games of ‘skill’. Indian gambling and online gaming laws are either archaic or non-existent. The government hasn’t put forth any dedicated gambling laws and this century has hardly seen any techno-legal framework being formed. Gambling is understood both under its traditional form as well as a modern avatar. The traditional gambling is understood in the context of physical space, brick, and motor format, whereas modern gambling consists of computers connected offline or online, mobile phones, the internet, etc. The Gambling Legislations exclude ‘games of skill’ from the purview of gambling and hence doesn’t attract the penal provisions.
In India, gambling and betting in sports are restricted but selectively exclusive to lotteries, horse racing, and casino gambling, though not uniformly regulated across the country. As horse racing categorized as an act of skill, betting is allowed in the game but excludes all other games that can be associated with an act of chance. The recent development by the Law Commission of India, which submitted its report to the government on legalizing the act of betting and gambling in India has invoked various controversies pertaining to the recommendation.
Betting and gambling have always been practiced privily and have a certain negative reputation in our society. The decades of social stigma associated with it as a result of its ill-effects prevent the act to be practiced openly on our system. We all are well versed with the fact that attempts by law authorities to curb unlawful gambling and betting in sports are attempted to get evaded. With every cricket season or series, we come to know one or the other betting racket that come under a legal lens and leading to various court cases on the issue.
There are many states and local regulations implemented to govern and monitor gambling practices across several Indian provinces but lack a proper centralized law framework. The Public Gambling Act, 1867 is the general law governing gambling in India. The state of Goa has allowed gambling by enacting the Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. Sikkim is a second Indian State that has legalized gambling and also the first Indian state to legalize internet gambling. Similarly, various other states having their own laws into effect.
We embrace the fact that our social system, controversial thoughts, and perceptions do not allow and support to change the current scenario. Despite being seen as an evil practice in the society, if practiced in proper guided channels, rules and regulations set up by the government, it can deliver some transformation its ambit. One can also think of some of its positive outcomes once we have a different social outlook and acceptance of a well structured and regulated gambling and betting practices, helpful in controlling the menace, could be an additional revenue of the government by imposing taxes and curtailing the unlawful practices.