A popular form of gambling is sports betting. It is a source of entertainment for people into sports. Placing a bet on a sporting event makes watching it even more entertaining. In the past, punters had to visit a land-based betting shop to place a bet. But nowadays, you can place a bet on a given sporting event in the comfort of your home.
In recent years, we have witnessed a shift toward more liberal gambling regulatory frameworks. Many countries legalized sports betting in an attempt to offset budget shortfalls and combat illegal sports betting activities. However, sports betting remains illegal in some countries, with India being one of them. Even though the Hindi-speaking country has emerged as a lucrative sports betting market, sports betting exists in a gray area. Let’s get acquainted more about the strict laws related to the sports betting in India.
The Legal Status of Sports Betting in India
India makes a difference between games of skills and chance. The skill-based games rely on a player’s knowledge and are not illegal in the eyes of Indian law. On the other hand, games of luck are considered illegal in India. The line between skill-based and luck-based games is vague. At the moment, only betting on horse races is legal in India.
A primary piece of legislation in India is the Public Gaming Act of 1867. It prohibits people from operating public gambling houses. Those who violate the law will be fined or imprisoned. Another outdated law that could apply to the legality of sports betting and gambling is the Prize Competition Act of 1955. It states that participating in competitions that offer prizes of over INR1,000 is illegal.
Another legislation that could apply to online gambling and sports betting is the Information Technology Act of 2000. However, the law does not explicitly mention the word online gambling or sports betting, meaning that we can only guess whether it is directed to online gambling and sports betting or not.
The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India allows the different states to introduce gambling-related laws. Up to date, sports betting remains illegal in most Indian states except Sikkim and Meghalaya. In Sikkim, sports betting can be offered through intranet terminals. In Meghalaya, bookies can operate under a license issued in accordance with the Meghalaya Act.
India Has a Huge Potential for Sports Betting
India is home to over 1.3 billion people, making it the second most populated country in the world. Besides, it has one of the youngest populations. According to the latest data, the median age of the Indian population is 29. Young people are interested in technology and use their smartphones to make phone calls, take pictures, play music, and even go online. In 2020, the smartphone users in India reached over 740 million.
Furthermore, many Indians have a passion for sports. Cricket is the most popular sport in India, attracting huge betting action. The number of Indian people who bet regularly amounts to over 140 million. For many people in India, sports betting is a way to make money from their favorite sport. And it is not a secret that many Indians live below the poverty line.
India Should Legalize Sports Betting
India is losing millions of dollars to offshore sportsbooks due to its unregulated sports betting market. Many online betting platforms welcome sports fans from India and even support their local currency. This proves that the laws in place are outdated and do not reflect the demand for sports betting services. Furthermore, determining problem gambling rates is impossible due to the lack of governing body.
All in all, India has to revamp its gambling laws. Such a move would be beneficial for the country’s economy and the punters who will be able to enjoy a safe betting environment. Unfortunately, little is done so far, and it seems that the situation in India is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.