06 Jul 2018
Gambling, Sports betting should be legal in India: Law Commission
If the Law Commission of India has its way, sports betting will soon undergo a complete overhaul.
Most importantly, it won't be illegal anymore. Income generated from gambling will be taxable, like any other legitimate earning.
You might even have to submit PAN and Aadhaar for betting.
Regularization will bring several more rules, restricting the currently-criminal activity to fewer sections of the masses.
Understanding the basics: This report is only a recommendation
In its report titled 'Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India,' the Commission argues that "legalizing betting and gambling is not desirable in India in the present scenario," but notes that it "isn't possible to prevent these activities completely."
However, this is only a recommendation; it is up to the Parliament and state legislatures to take this forward.
Commission extensively quotes Chanakya, Mahabharata, Naradasmriti and others
The report makes ample references to ancient texts. "The Naradasmriti and Kautilya (Chanakya), all advocated that gambling should exist under the State's control," it reads.
"If gambling cannot be stopped...the King should impose tax and make it a source of income," it quotes Katyayana Smriti.
"...Had gambling been regulated, Yudhishtir couldn't have put his brothers and wife as stakes, and perhaps Mahabharat couldn't have been there..."
If approved, clients will have to follow several rules
If it is legalized, the Commission has recommended cashless transactions complete with PAN and Aadhaar.
"For participants, there must be a cap on the number of transactions" along with a cap on the betting amount, it said.
Underage citizens, those who receive government subsidies, or aren't covered by the I-T or GST Acts will be prohibited from gambling.
'Proper gambling' vs 'small gambling'
The Commission has recommended categorizing the activity into 'proper gambling' and 'small gambling.' The former will be characterized by higher stakes, and thus will be limited to high-income groups. Individuals in low-income groups will be restricted to 'small gambling' with lower stakes.
Operators will be subjected to certain checks too
As for operators, they must carry valid licenses to be supplied by a relevant licensing authority.
Gambling and betting websites must ensure the site contains all necessary details of such activities, including the risk factor as well as how to play responsibly.
They also have to make sure there is no objectionable or pornographic material on their platform.
Illegal gambling market in India worth over Rs. 3L crore
The report comes after the SC directed the Law Commission to look into legalization of betting and gambling following the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal.
According to a 2013 report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the underground betting market in India is estimated at a whopping Rs. 3L crore.
Currently, such activities are allowed, albeit with restrictions, in Goa, Sikkim and Daman.