Law Commission Recommends Regulated Gambling and Sports Betting in India to Combat Black Market Forces

3 min read

Gambling and sports betting in India could soon be regulated if the federal government decides to take the recommendation of the country’s Law Commission.

Law Commission of India
The Law Commission of India has published a report recommending new regulations for gambling and sports betting. (Image: SCC Online)

Following the continued growth of poker in parts of India, the Commission has concluded that the current laws aren’t fit for purpose. In reviewing the state of gambling and sports betting, the legal experts said that black market forces were benefiting from the gambling ban India has in place.

“Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option,” reads the Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India report.

Unblocking Betting Could Help Poker

For those with an eye on poker in India, regulation has been piecemeal at best. Much like the US, some regions have taken advantage of poker’s “grey” status. Although gambling is prohibited, some states have ruled that poker isn’t gambling and, in turn, created their own regulations.

This isn’t the case in all regions, but all this change if the government accepts that betting and gambling could generate new income and business opportunities for India. As noted in the report, any new laws could also include changes to the country’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy, which would allow offshore gaming operators to open online sites.

While the main thrust of the report is calling for regulation as a way to generate more income and repair a broken system, there is also a clear desire to limit how much consumers could spend. Despite a growing middle and upper-class, much of India’s population is still poor.

Commission Differentiates High Stakes and Casual Gaming

To prevent a potentially damaging shift, the report wants to divide the industry into “small gambling” and “proper gambling” (i.e. high stakes). Additionally, the law advisors want payment options to be restricted.

“The nature of stakes should be restricted to money with a linkage to PAN card and Aadhar card and the betting amount should be prescribed by law, having an upper limit on the amount one can legally stake in a gamble, which may be on the basis of the deposit, winnings or losses,” the July 5 report said.

At this stage, the recommendations are not enforceable by law. However, government ministers will now be able to review the document and decide whether to implement a nationwide regulatory framework.

Should this happen, casino, sports betting and poker will all receive a boost. With India being the second most-populous country in the world (1.3 billion) and boasting the sixth largest economy, the market clearly has potential for local companies as well as international operators.

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