The state government of Meghalaya is preparing the groundwork to convert the state into a hub of legalised gambling, online gaming and online betting.

State Law and Taxation Minister said Meghalaya, a popular tourist destination, intended to generate adequate revenue from legalised gambling, online betting and gaming.


What is gambling/betting?

Generally, gambling is referred to as card games where high stakes are involved and betting is referred to as casino games and putting a bet on an event such as a match. 


Central laws governing gambling/betting

  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, the state governments have the exclusive power to enact their own laws on Gambling/Betting for their own territory.
  • Public Gambling Act, 1867 – It is a colonial-era statute which is still in force. It has been adopted by several states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. Other states like Goa, Sikkim etc have enacted their own pieces of legislation to regulate Gambling/Betting related activities within their territories.
  • The Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998 – Lottery is considered legal in India. Lottery should be organised by the state government and the place of Draw should be in that particular state.
  • Indian Penal Code, 1860 – The code has provisions for punishing anyone who to the annoyance of others does any obscene act in a public place or sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place. These provisions of the IPC may be attracted if any obscene matter is used for the purpose of advertising betting and gambling activities.
  • Prize Competitions Act, 1955 – It defines Prize in Competitions.
  • Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 – Remittance of the income generated from lottery winning, racing/riding is prohibited.
  • Information Technology Rules, 2011 – Any internet service provider, network service provider or any search engine will not host any such content which directly or indirectly supports Gambling.
  • Income Tax Act, 1961 – Current taxation policy in India covers all types of Gambling industry directly and indirectly. Thus, it can be said that all regulated & legalised Gambling is supported in GDP of India.


Arguments in Favour of Legalisation

  • Legalising gambling will not only help in breaking off sources of black money but it will also generate a good amount of revenue for the state exchequer.
  • The unaccounted money earned from gambling activities is managed by the criminal syndicates which are spent on nefarious activities like terror financing.
  • Legalising gambling will not only put a halt on it but also the money generated from betting and gambling can be used by the authorities for various constructive social schemes.
  • In a large country like India, a legal and effectively regulated gambling sector will generate large-scale employment opportunities.
  • In sports events like cricket, people tend to bet on it and the majority of time players go for fixing the matches, even though betting on it is illegal in India.
  • If betting gets a legal permit, then there will be more transparency in such activities and it will also curb fixing of the matches


Arguments Against Legalisation

  • Gambling is morally wrong and is not ethically correct in the Indian context.
  • It is one of the reasons for bankruptcy, addiction, loss of livelihood, divorce, crime.
  • Legalised gambling hurt and destroys those who are poor and disadvantaged people of the society.
  • There are apprehensions that companies may exploit people to try their luck in gambling, with the help of betting apps or other means. These people in turn may lose their hard-earned money and may further increase the incidents of suicide etc which are limited in extent at present.
  • Since gambling is portrayed as something clean and a way to earn money quickly, it attracts young people, who eventually become gambling addicts.


Way forward

  • The 276th report of the Law Commission of India talked about the possibility of legalising gambling in the whole country with some rules and regulations.
  • But the legalisation of gambling in a large country like India is not an easy task.
  • The Government has to take certain measures before legalising Gambling in India:
      • State list to Concurrent list – Firstly, there would be a need to make an amendment to the Constitution regarding gambling as it is under the purview of the state list. So, it should firstly, be put under concurrent list so that the Parliament can legislate on the subject without facing any hindrances.
      • Restrict the Number of Transactions – To protect the interest of people and to prevent any harm, the government should restrict the number of transactions that can be made in a specified period. Also, there should be a check upon the stakes involved by linking the accounts with either PAN/AADHAAR card.