A Sail of Gambling Laws in India

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The sole aim of this paper is towards the analysis of the laws through which gambling is governed in our country. It is a type of bad addiction due to which thousands of families gets destroyed. The gambling has been known as the illegal and bad work in whole of the country except some states like Goa, Sikkim etc. Although it is not legal to indulge in gambling but it is yet the most popular illegal game. It is mainly practiced in the field of sports. Thus, this paper analyzes the loopholes and reforms that are progressively needed for this practice and thus it also analyses the recent judicial trends about the same.

Gambling is not a modern game. It has been practiced in our country from the ancient times. The traces can be found from the times of Mahabharata also. In the ancient times, it has been a source of joy but now in today’s modern era it has become a source of earning money. The gambling has been widely practiced all over the country despite being illegal. Only in some states of our country it has made legal. It has its own advantages and disadvantages. But it has more negative effects. It increases the poverty as well as the crime rate. It also impacts the economy heavily. It forms a vague image in the minds of people that money can be created on the basis if luck only. Sometimes, it also acts as a medium to transfer money from poor to rich people. It also clearly affects the social as well the moral values of the society. One of the old law which governs these subjects is The Public Gambling Act, 1867. There has been a type of vagueness related to the gambling and betting laws in our country. Thus, the objective of this paper is to make an analysis of the laws related to gambling in our country, how these laws affects the society and what reforms are needed in such sector.

The subject of gambling and betting in our country has been governed through various legislations in India. The first legislation that has been made to deal with gambling and betting is the Public Gambling Act, 1867 which deals with certain type of betting and gambling in our country. As the law has been made in the 19th century it doesn’t covers the modern changes that has been made in the society. Like it doesn’t covers the concept of online gaming. As per the state list of our constitution, the power related to make laws over gambling and betting comes under that states. It has been mentioned under the Entry 34 of the constitution. Thus, the act has become incompetent in nature as it has now becomes the only means of the officers to take money from the gamblers. A large number of population of our country are indulged in such type of activities and they opposed the law for the same. The Law Commission of India has also recommended to legalize sports betting in the country. These activities has nowadays become common in society which is uncommon ethically. It involves all the classes of the society rich as well as poor. The laws has now become incompetent to deal with these subjects. The two issues always comes before the state before legalizing such activities as (i) the subject is closely related to crime and thus the government wasn’t able to safeguard its citizens (ii) these activities gave an rise to the poverty and crime in the state. Thus, the states should make a clear way by suppressing the people to not entails or rather can regulate the same safely.

Online Betting: A Legal Challenge ?
Their has been no mentioning about the online gaming in the Public Gaming Act of 1867. And it is also expected that as at that point of time the trend of online gaming is not there as the technology is not that much developed in the world. It is only because of today’s modern technology that such type of online gaming is possible. And thus at that time the act doesn’t needs to introduce to regulate the online gaming. Thus, it can be clearly understood that gambling through the online sites is clearly a illegal practice in our country under this act. But it has now been governed under the Information Technology Act 2000 and thus it can be considered as legal also. It has some provisions related to the online gaming and thus it also have provisions for online gambling and betting. Although, similar to that of the Public Gaming Act it doesn’t separately talks about online gaming and betting but it has provision for considering any thing related to same. The government of our country has tried their best to keep away the people from such illegal activities and thus they have created awareness for the same. They have also blocked such sites which offers illegal gambling and betting. Only some states of our country has made laws related to the online gaming and betting. Like in the state of Sikkim, the power to provide licenses for the online gaming and betting has been given to the public authorities under The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008. The authorities can provide the license to such companies which are interested in such profession. While in the state of Maharashtra, the online gaming is purely a illegal thing. Thus, more states of our country are needed to make laws about the same so that a clarity has been introduced in the subjects.
Game of Chance vs Game of Skill
It has always remains a matter of discussion that is it fair to compare both in the game of chance and game of skill. Game of chance can be defined as a game in which a person choses a specific number for which he bets and if that number came in the game then he wins or else he loses the game. On the opposite side, the game of skill is merely a different thing. In this game, the results has been obtained in which the skills of the other persons plays the major role in respect of the luck. Like betting on the chances of a international team winning a cricket match. Although, confusions are always their in sort of games that whether they are the game of chance or game of skill. Examples of such type of games are poker. This game is popular all over the world and thus in our country India also. But their is lack of clarity over it. All over the world it has been regarded as the game of skill and not as the game of chance. But in some states of our country, it has been regarded as the game of chance like in Gujarat as per the case of Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Gujarat & Ors. , the high court of Gujarat held that the game of poker is regarded as the game of chance rather than game of skill and thus it falls under the definition of Gujarat Gambling Legislations and thus it is prohibited in the state. It was also held that if any game involves more luck in it then even if it involves skills it falls under the definition of gambling and betting. Also, the apex court of our country has a similar point of view about the game of poker. In the case of M.J. Sivani & Ors v. State of Karnataka & Ors , it has been popularly held that the game of poker is a game of chance and not a game of skill.

Judicial Interpretations:

  1. The High court of Punjab and Haryana became the first court to held the fantasy match to be purely skill base in the case of Shri Varun Gumber vs. UT of Chandigarh & Ors, 2017 . This case was registered against the Dream 11 Fantasy Pvt. Limited where the petitioner has lost an amount of Rs. 50,000 while playing the game which has been organized by the company. Thus, the petitioner has gone with the court alleging that the game is not skill based and thus comes under the definition of gambling under the under the gambling and betting laws related to the state of Punjab. But the court has a contradictory view. The court has made its decision by referring to the case of K.R. Lakshmanan v State of Tamil Nadu which has been decided by the apex court of our country. The court has held that the games in which there is an greater chance of success because of skill rather than the chance of skill will be regarded as a game of skill. It was held that playing the fantasy cricket game requires the judgmental and analytical skills and not merely luck only and thus it doesn’t amount to gambling at all. Thus, the fantasy game has been treated as a sort of business as per the article 19(1)(g) of the constitution.
  2. The popular show named Kaun Banega Crorepati has to face the issue of its legality in the case of In the case of Bimalendu De vs. Union of India & Ors. The petitioner in this case through the public interest litigation has pleaded before the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court that the telecast of show should be prohibited on the television since the game amounts to gambling and thus should be prohibited as per the gambling and betting laws. The court has thus reviewed the show as per the gambling laws of the state and thus held that the show doesn’t cones under the ambit of gambling and betting.

Concluding Remarks
The laws related to gambling and betting in our country is totally vague and not clear. The courts has tried their best to clear the situation although the laws are still not that much clear. Because of the modern advancements in the today’s society, the people are almost free to play the online games which lies over the lines of betting and gambling as per the definition of subjects as per the law. The competency of these games are not decided by the court of laws. The gambling and betting has its own advantages and disadvantages. As it is widely accepted among the people, it has more negative effects. It forms a vague image in the minds of people that money can be created on the basis if luck only. Sometimes, it also acts as a medium to transfer money from poor to rich people. It also clearly affects the social as well the moral values of our society. Thus, laws has to be taken while considering all these aspects.

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