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Will India Ever Consider Regulating Online Gambling in the Country?

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | July 21, 2021 08:15 PM

India is one of the most populated countries worldwide and this is why many industries and businesses see it as a gold mine. It is ripe to be a thriving market for many industries including gambling. Why wouldn’t it be? The legality of gambling is subjected to each state which means that each of them could regulate gambling activities if they want to.

However, today, there are only three states that allow casinos to operate in the country and these are Goa, Sikkim, and Daman. Other states consider gambling illegal and so, the locals will have to visit these places to play casino games that they are interested in.

Despite the restrictions, however, India’s gambling industry is thriving and this isn’t exactly because of the three states that allow casinos to operate. It’s because India’s gambling regulations are based on the Public Gaming Act of 1867 and this is so ancient that it doesn’t mention anything about playing Teen Patti cash online or any other real money games on the internet.

Reports suggest that around 40 percent of the internet users in the country gamble. India has around 700 million internet users in 2020 and this means that online gambling in the country caters to around 280 million users.

Does That Mean That Online Gambling is Legal in India?

Since there are now laws in the country that prohibits online gambling activities, it means that the locals can access online casino sites. However, what’s illegal in the country on a national level is the local operations of online casinos. Still, this places online casino gaming in the grey area.

The locals can freely access online casinos as long as it is based offshore. So far, only the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have already imposed a ban on all forms of online gambling within the state. Aside from this, the only condition that online casinos have to follow is to allow the locals to transact with them with the local currency.

Many online casinos happily comply with this and one can also tell how popular gambling is in the country by seeing traditional Indian card games available online. Nowadays, you can easily look for a site that offers games like Teen Patti and Andar Bahar. There are also slot machine games that carry the theme of Bollywood that you can play.

Why A Call for Regulation is on the Rise

Even if the locals can play at online casinos based offshore, people are now starting to call for regulating the local iGaming sector. Well, each state could just decide on regulating online gambling as this is allowed on the Public Gaming Act. The states have the power to legalize the operations of online betting within their territories but today, it seems like no state has it on the priority list.

It’s not like no state has attempted to move towards legalizing local gambling operations. In 2010, Sikkim aimed to offer three online gambling licenses but the attempt failed. No information was given as to why the attempt failed but Sikkim now allows online lottery and they take bets from people throughout the country.

Likely, the online gambling market in Sikkim was just not ripe yet when the attempt was made. During that time, the global online gambling industry wasn’t as big as how it is today and the push for legislation back then in countries like India can be easily ignored.

However, the situation is different today because India now has a ripe and huge market for online gaming and gambling. India’s internet infrastructure is better and more and more people are gaining access to mobile devices which are affordable yet powerful.

It is estimated that the online gambling sector in India alone is worth over 5 billion US dollars and India is losing a lot of potential tax revenues. Today, offshore casinos and even the underground or illegal market are the ones benefitting from the rise of mobile gambling in the country.

With that, India already has economical reasons to push for online gambling regulations. Allowing the local operations of gambling sites could also create thousands of jobs for the locals. When done correctly, it could benefit the country well.

Many are also calling for its regulation to help aid the rising gambling problems in the country. It’s noteworthy that with the rise of this industry comes the potential harm to the locals. If carefully planned out, India could allot a portion of the industry’s revenue to help problematic gamblers too.

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