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Legalization of gambling: a dicey affair

Context:

  • The Law Commission has recently sought views from the public and stakeholders on whether or not gambling and betting is morally justified in the Indian circumstances.

Background:

Gambling:

  • Gambling is referred to as card games where high stakes are involved.

Betting:

  • Betting is referred to as casino games and putting a bet on an event such as a match.

Note:

  • The subject of gambling and betting is under the State list (Seventh Schedule, List II).
  • According to Central and State Act, gambling is prohibited in public or public gaming houses.
  • But there is no prohibition on such activities in a private house.

Law Commission’s enquiry:

In the context of legalizing betting and gambling, the Law Commission wants to generate opinion on:

  • curbing illegal activities,
  • substantial revenue and employment generation,
  • morally connotation in the Indian circumstances,
  • safeguard against bankruptcy, and
  • foothold of foreign betting and gambling companies in the country.

Why gambling should be legalized?

Gambling should be legalized because:

  • Concerns revolving around gambling are unfounded.
  • It will help curtail an important source of black money that is used by criminal syndicates.
  • It will bring massive revenue to the state exchequer, which can be used for various constructive social schemes.

For instance: According to a conservative estimate: government could earn 10,000 crores as tax revenue by legalizing sports betting.

  • It will help in creating large-scale employment opportunities.

For instance: The regulated gambling industry in the U.S. employs over 2.5 lakh people.

  • Complete ban of gambling may in fact increase underground illegal betting and gambling activities.

What are the hurdles and complexities in legalizing gambling?

The hurdles and complexities in legalizing gambling are as following:

  • It invariably leads to moral and monetary bankruptcy.
  • Online gaming cannot be curbed by merely amending the Information Technology Act.
  • There is no guarantee that legalising betting will generate revenue as projected.

Note:

  • As the subject of gambling figures in the State List, the Constitution will have to amended first so that gambling can figure in the Concurrent List.

What are some of the government measures to control gambling?

 Public Gambling Act (1867):

  • The Act provided for punishment for public gambling and keeping of common gaming houses.

Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act (1887):

  • The act is provided to consolidate and amend the law for the prevention of gambling in Maharashtra.

Way ahead:

Before legalizing gambling and betting, the measures to be taken are:

  • Necessary infrastructure such as police machinery, prosecutors, etc,
  • A robust regulatory framework governing the gaming sector,
  • Awareness campaigns to educate people about the perils of excessive gambling,
  • Exclusion of minors, habitual gamblers and vulnerable sections from having access to gaming facilities,
  • Limitation on the amounts based on a person’s financial capabilities, and
  • Relevant provisos will have to be made in the Information Technology Act if gambling is to be regulated.
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