Legal Route to Gambling- India Perspective

"There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having Fun and being Smart." -Hunter S. Thompson

In the recent years, people have commenced making innumerable cash bets upon various prohibited gambling activities and in 2013 the Casinos in Goa alone have contributed Rs. 135 crores to the State Revenue. Gambling is controlled to the highest degree all around the world.

With the advent of The Public Gambling Act, 1867 and various other Acts in prevention of illegal gambling, the Government of India has been able to manage and regulate the economy. Throughout the whole of India, gambling has been restricted but certain states have acquired a lawful permit e.g. Horse-Racing and Lotteries. The Government of India has actively colluded with all the Acts, Codes and Procedures alongwith the central law The Public Gambling Act, 1867. According to The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 casinos can be set up only at five star hotels and offshore vessels with the prior permission for casino. So far, only three states have acquired the lawful permit to run casinos namely Goa, Daman and Sikkim.

Matka Gambling or Satta is a renowned type of lottery which originated during the epochs of Indian Independence when it was known as Ankada Jugar which means Gambling of Figures. A person who has won a great deal of money from the Matka Gambling is known as the Matka King. Matka Gambling is Illegal throughout India.

Gambling is defined as the wagering of money or something holding material value referred to as the Stakes, on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Gambling using the Internet is known as Internet Gambling or Online Gambling.

In India, Sikkim is the only state to have been permitted with Online Lottery operated by Playwin that takes bets from players. The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 was passed with an object to control and regulate online gaming through electronic formats. It is expected that other States shall follow Sikkim shortly, thereby opening up a major online gambling market throughout the country.

In India, all the cyber activities are regulated under the Information Technology Act, 2000 which prohibits publication and transmission that can corrupt a person. Online Gambling is considered more serious than Offline Gambling. Furthermore, the state of Maharashtra bans online gambling under The Bombay Wager Act, 2010 and also under The Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. The State of Tamil Nadu ratified The Tamil Nadu Scheme (Prohibition) Act, 1979 which prohibits and penalizes any person from promoting and conducting any prize scheme.

The Indian law recognizes games either as a Game of Chance or as a Game of Skill. A Game of Skill is where the outcome is concluded mainly by mental or physical skill, rather than by luck. A Game of Chance is where the outcome is strongly influenced by some automated device and upon which contestants may choose to wager money or something holding pecuniary value. The only distinction is that the Game of Chance is either illegal or regulated under the Laws of The Republic of India while the Game of Skill is not.

The Gambling System is heavily criticized declaring that it leads to crimes, fraud and laundering of illegal money. While majority criticized the Gambling System of India, few favored the Regulated Gambling System. They argued stating that it can be a huge source of substantial revenue for the State. According to the Indian National Newspaper, the Chief Executive Officer for the International Cricket Council (ICC) said that he was absolutely in favor for legalizing sports betting. A Games of Skill attracts Skill Players and many people make a living as professional players. It alleged that the illegal funds are profited through the underground bookies. They further utilize this money to finance terrorism and drugs.

From the Lawyer’s Desk

Gambling is any Game of Chance that involves a pecuniary significance. A Gambler will have to fight against what in Stock Trading is known as “The Efficiency of Market”. An efficient market is one in which information about a product is immediately absorbed into the price of that product. A skilled gambler knows how to obtain information and how to interpret less skilled gamblers. They understand how a less skilled player shall use the same strategies to earn the success. A Game of Chance may have some elements of skill and thus with this skill playing a greater role can be determining in concluding the outcome. The key to all skill-oriented games is Information. The best opportunities come from an “Inside Knowledge”, but just as it is in Stock Trading, using such information in gambling games is generally illegal.

Gambling is an unlawful activity because many habitual persons develop a psychological addiction risking food and even shelter. Many skilled players also develop an obsession with their game just like any Pathological Gambler. The major distinction between a chance player and a skilled player is that a skilled player does not bet compulsively. All Skilled Players practice money management “Bankroll” and Self Discipline.

The Game of Chance have been celebrated in our country since times antiquity and after the introduction of The Public Gambling Act, 1976 a legal counsel can impart their valuable knowledge and protect a person statutorily under the laws of the country. Any person who plans on investing their luck in Game of Chance is advised to consult a lawyer and declare the intent. A lawyer shall prepare a legal opinion and protect your investments under the statutory laws. The investments and property (movable and immovable) shall be safe guarded from impulsive and compulsive bets. With appropriate legal protections, one is more cognizant, comfortable and safe.

The Gambling Legislation with the help of judiciary shall be more expedient to widen the scope under these Acts. Therefore a person shall not be violating any the laws made by our Constitution. Please be advised, the prerequisites for every Gambling or the Game of Chance to be valid, the pre-requisites are:
1. Consideration
2. Chance
3. Prize

Always seek legal advice before gambling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Gill and Neeraj Kumar Jha
Jessica Gill (Legal Exec.), Neeraj Kumar Jha (Sr. Partner) Agnihotri & Jha Associates

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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