Indian Law Commission Proposes Legalization of Sports Betting
The Law Commission of India is considering the legalization of sports betting and casino gambling activities in the subcontinent. The Law Commission, the chief legal panel in the country, was tasked by the Indian Supreme Court with investigating “all legal aspects of betting in sports:.
The decision to investigate legalization and regulation of sports betting was a reaction to a 2013 spot-fixing controversy involving cricket players in the Inidan Premier League. Because cricket is the national pastime of India, the scandal was a major news story for well over a year.
Serious Review of Sports Betting Regulations
The Law Commission recently announced it was becoming “serious” in its review, which is to say it was beginning to take the prospect of legal sports betting seriously. The early indication is the legal commission believes legalized and regulated sports betting is a better solution than a complete ban. In the eyes of the Law Commission, legalization would protect the public from spot-fixing scandals in the future.
The chairman of the commission, Retired Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, stated in no uncertain terms that he believes gambling has adverse effects on society. Chauhan said that gambling, in his opinion, leads to more crime and worse living standards for many of its participants, due to gambling addiction. Still, Balbir Singh Chauhan said those were not reasons to justify a ban.
Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan
Those commnents were made at a seminar attended by members of the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and the FICCI. The commission leader said that problem gambling does not come from “gambling per se”, but instead are a result in “excessive gambling, which results in addiction”. It would be akin to banning alcohol, because some people become addicted to alcohol.
In his remarks, Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan said, “The response of the state in such a situation should be to regulate the activity, not seek to stop it completely.”
The respected former judge added that legalization would undermine the criminal underworld and spot-fixers, because it would bring sports betting into the so-called light of day. Singh Chauhan said, “Legalization would give the government the opportunity to bring gambling out from the dark corners of society, impose controls and extract some revenue….If betting were legal then a huge chunk of money that, at the moment circulates only round the black market, would quickly become available.”
$60 Billion a Year Industry
Thus, enacting sports betting laws would be both enlightened and profitable. Gambling analysts estimate that $60 billion a year is wagered illegally on sporting events in India. If that bookmaker betting was made legal and taxed, it would represent an additional $2.6 billion in tax revenues for Indian’s national and state governments.
Chauhan said the government needs to conduct further studies on legalization, because “there are chances that people, in a bid to earn quick money through gambling, might resort to unlawful means.”
Sports Betting and Criminal Conduct
In such cases, proponents of legalized gambling argue the danger that desperate gamblers are going to fall into crime to pay back their gambling debts is already existant. Illegal gambling constitutes a $60 billion industry, so gambling addiction already exists in India. Whatever crime might happen is already happening, by and large.
This is not the first call for a modernization of India’s sports betting laws. The country’s gaming laws currently are under the auspices of the Public Gaming Act 1867. Thus, the country is faced with laws that were promulgated by officials in the British Raj.
Updating Indian Gaming Laws
In an age when Australia plans to update its gambling laws because the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001 is considered out-of-date due to technological advancement, the idea that India would be guided by 150-year old law is astounding.
Indian Supreme Court Report on Sports Betting
In July, the Indian Supreme Court accepted the requests of the Lodha Committee to make sports betting legal throughout the country. The Supreme Court wrote a 143-page report, which stated that sports betting and match-fixing are not the same. The report gave approval for sports betting legality, but suggested the Indian Parliament should take the lead in legalization efforts.
The report stated that Parliament “involves the enactment of a law, which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the government.”
Thus, the Supreme Court approved the Law Commission’s investigation into the advantages and disadvantages of legalization.