Arbaaz case reignites debate on legalisation of betting

ST Correspondent
Sunday, 3 June 2018

Casino gambling is legal in Goa and Sikkim and has helped the state governments generate a large amount of revenue

Pune: The debate on betting being illegal in India has again been ignited with Arbaaz Khan’s involvement in IPL betting becoming news.

Despite being illegal in India, except in case of horse racing and lottery, betting is done in various forms. The Indian gambling market is estimated to be more than Rs 3 lakh crore a year and betting in cricket alone generates around Rs 300 crore per annum. This amount increases to around Rs 1,000 crore during IPL season and other international games.

A senior police officer of Mumbai police, on condition of anonymity, said, “According to Indian gambling laws, betting is not legal, but it is very much popular in various nations. There are various football and cricket playing nations where sports betting is allowed. But in India, there is a grey area for betting.”

The officer further added, “In India, the games that are defined as skill games, or in which skill is involved, don’t fall into the category of gambling. Games such as chess, carrom, horse racing and rummy are termed as skill games in India, whereas other games are considered chance games, including cricket, and placing bets on such games is illegal.”

“In my view, if the government legalises betting, it will help generate more revenue. It will also help people who like to place bets stay away from dark characters in the betting world. I have seen young kids whose lives have been destroyed because of illegal betting. If it is legal, everything will be transparent,” the officer further said. 

Tausif Sheikh, a Pune-based lawyer, said, “People get away with marginal fines irrespective of whether the betting is with small money or big money. Betting is flourishing despite law enforcement agencies working to curb it. Legalising betting will help the government increase revenue. It will be more transparent. It’s better to make it legal and earn from it instead of letting anti-social elements earn crores from illegal betting.”

It is significant to note that casino gambling is legal in Goa and Sikkim and has helped the state governments generate a large amount of revenue.

According to website sportsbetting.net, the Public Gambling Act of 1867 is the primary legislative document that makes gambling in India a ‘grey’ legality. While Pakistan has abolished this act, our government has affirmed their commitment to keeping it on the books on many occasions. This 145-year-old British-era law makes operating a gambling house, assisting in the operation of a gambling house, visiting a gambling house (whether gambling or not), financing gambling and being in possession of any sort of gambling devices a crime. The penalty is a fine not exceeding Rs 200 or up to three months in prison.

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