The Law Commission is geared up to instate a series of regulations to place controls on online betting in India. One of the regulations will be that an individual is allowed to place only up to three bets annually.
The Commission’s Chairman, Justice BS Chauhan, states that it is challenging to prevent online betting completely, and therefore, regulations have to be placed to monitor this type of betting activity. However, he said that it should be left up to the individual state governments.
Chauhan further highlights that the proposed law will have various provisions to ensure that betting does not become habitual, and the number of times that an individual could bet in a year needs to be regulated. Further, the Commission is looking at proposing the amount of wagering allowed for a person to be determined as a percentage of their total wealth.
The Chairman also explained that some of the provisions in the Information Technology Act are created to ensure that the most vulnerable sections of society are protected which includes children and the poor. Article 249 provides the Parliament with the power to decide on issues in the State List due to their potential impact on the national interest.
As per one report, a proposal being evaluated involves establishing a gaming commission and offering pan India licenses to operators.
Some highlights of the Commission’s working paper are:
– Individuals interested in wagering online will have to route it through a licensed operator.
– The operator will establish the bet after acquiring information such as the person’s income and total property before placing bets on their behalf.
– The government is proposing “high-stakes” and “low-stakes” slabs to ensure that individuals do not end up gambling away all their wealth and property.
– An individual who falls outside the purview of the Income Tax Laws will be able to place only “low-stakes” bets.
– In a Board of Control for Cricket case in the country, the Commission was directed by the Supreme Court in July 2016 to investigate if betting can be legalized, and to create a legal framework that will provide for that.
The Law Commission had issued a public notice in June 2017 seeking suggestions from the general public as well as various stakeholders.
The Commission provided insights into gambling in India stating that it is challenging to curb this activity. The Law Commission observed that a large amount of money is involved in illegal gambling which has led to the creation of an almost parallel economy. This is detrimental to the mainstream economy as this converts legally earned money into black money which goes into the hands of gambling operators in various countries.
According to a 2013 report by FICCI, the underground gambling market in India is pegged at INR 3 lakh crores. This can translate into significant tax revenues for the government.
Presently, the regulations surrounding gaming in India re-fragmented with every state deciding the rules within their jurisdiction. There are variations in the definition of gaming, the types of games that qualify, and the repercussions of being involved in various forms of gambling or gaming disallowed by the law.
India can take a cue from other countries such as the UK in particular where online casinos and gambling sites are prolific. In the UK the rules in relation to bonuses and offers are highly regulated, so too, are the sign-up criteria where unique national identification numbers, names, and other information must be provided before you can sign-up to a casino and other gambling platforms.
India can also develop its own rules about gambling which can not only increase tax revenues but also help the government to prevent the misuse of this platform.
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