India seeks public input on legalizing betting, gambling

The Law Commission of India is seeking public input to help craft its report on whether the government should legalize sports betting and gambling.
Late last year, India’s Supreme Court tasked the Law Commission with studying the potential for legalizing sports betting in the world’s most populous country. The Court’s request was based on recommendations made by the Lodha Committee, which suggested that legalized betting could help reduce highly public incidents of tampering with Indian sports, most notably cricket.
On Tuesday, the Law Commission issued an appeal for input from both gaming industry stakeholders and the general public with regard to legalizing not only sports betting but other forms of gambling, as well. The Commission reasoned that “gambling is very closely associated with betting” and considering one without the other “may render the whole exercise futile.”
Specifically, the Commission wants to know if legalizing betting and gambling will help reduce illegal activity and allow the government to earn “substantial” revenue and generate jobs. The Commission also wants input on whether legalizing gambling will be “morally correct in the Indian circumstances.”
Other questions include whether international betting and gambling companies should be “allowed to have a foothold” in India, and how best to safeguard against Indian gamblers succumbing to bankruptcy.
The Commission is inviting comments for the next 30 days. Following an unspecified period of digestion, the Commission says it will “arrive at a judicious opinion and make suitable suggestions and recommendations to the government.”
There’s no question that momentum is building for India to finally modernize its 150-year-old gambling laws, and that international gambling operators are salivating at the possibility of access to this immense and betting-mad market.
On July 14, the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a public interest litigation (PIL) on whether sports betting requires sufficient skill to avoid being considered an illegal game of chance, but rather a legal game of skill like rummy or poker. The PIL wants the Court to either direct the central government to set down betting rules and regulations or offer guidance to individual states that wish to proceed down this path on their own steam.

Calvin Ayre

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