Gujarat Leaders Consider 100% Online Gambling Ban
The Gujarat government in Western India plans a total ban on online gambling. Gujarat is India’s 6th-largest state in territory and 9th-largest in population. The state’s 60.3 million populated is based in major metropolitan areas like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Surat.
A.K. Singh, the police chief in the capital of Ahmedabad, asked the Gujarat Game Department to change its gambling laws.
Currently, Gujarat’s policies cover physical gambling types, but he wants them expanded to online and mobile gaming.
The police chief said, “Recently, the CID crime branch and home department officials had held a meeting to bring changes to gambling laws. It is tough, as gambling in some parts of the world is legal, while in India it is illegal.”
PUBG Banned in Public Schools
Last month, Gujarat’s Department of State Primary Education banned a popular online multi-player battle game in many districts. According to school officials, the game “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)” is a distraction for students in certain schools.
Though Gujarat technically imposed a ban on PUBG throughout the state, it remains available for download online. Google Play and the Apple App Store has Player Unknowns: Battleground for download. The game is available in many districts on Android, IOS, Xbox, Windows, and Play Station 4 devices.
The actions against PUBG downloads shows a growing desire by Gujarat’s public officials to address online and mobile gaming in the state.
Public Gaming Act of 1867
Nationally, India’s gambling laws date back to the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Most nations updated their gaming laws in the past two decades to reflect the changes wrought by technological innovation and societal values, so it is a surprise that India’s gambling laws remain influenced by 19th century standards set down by the British Raj.
The Supreme Court of India ruled on several cases in the past few years, due to the lack of clarity from the national parliament. Thus, Indian states craft their own policies to a large degree. Goa allows river-based casinos, though the legal status of such casinos remain in flux at present.
Damman and Sikkim also legalized land-based casinos in recent years. Sikkim planned to approve 3 online gambling licenses in 2010, but leaders pulled back from the plan due to opposition.
Information Technology Act of 2000
The 2000 Information Technology Act (ITA) gives states widespread sway over the legal framework of electronic governance. Other states used the Information Technology Act to limit or ban online gambling, though many Indian states never addressed the issue.
To act, local police department’s cyber divisions must invoke the Information Technology Act. Theoretically, the ITA gives local police the right to ban games like PUBG. Most police units don’t have the resources to enforce such bans in schools, much less the entire city or region.
The Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds ban shows that state-level authorities would need to ban such gaming. States presumably could call on ISPs to block IP addresses of illegal gaming sites. If Gujarat’s state government focused on illegal mobile downloads, it might force Google Play to take down PUGB apps from their Indian storefront.
ICC CEO Called for Legalization
Former chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Dave Richardson publicly called for legalization of gambling, because he thought it would lead to better policing of sports. Match-fixing scandals plagued India’s cricket system in the past two decades, though Pakistan (a member of the ICC) had the most damaging scandals.
Leaders never approved the proposed changes. On April 1, longtime ESPN Star Sports Manu Sawhney took over for Dave Richardson as the ICC’s chief executive. Whether he’ll support the same changes Richardson wanted is unknown presently.
Gaming analysts believe India’s gaming industry would generate $60 billion a year, if the national government and all states legalized, licensed, and taxed gambling activities. Such legalization isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.