The Enforcement Directorate’s Ahmedabad unit arrested two bookies on Friday, identified as Mukesh Sharma and Sukhvinder Singh Sodhi, who were allegedly, steering money to UK using online betting website betfair.com.
Despite such probes and searches, the inter-state betting activities go unabated on the internet through complex channels and web networks. The sudden gush of money laundering activities has raised questions about the judiciary’s stance on online gambling. Even though the Indian courts have always considered gambling pernicious and punishable, online gambling is a much more complicated legal issue in the nation.
The Constitution of India gives the states the right to create their own laws and policies regarding online betting and gambling. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is the central law that provides for punishment for public gambling, but guarantees no express provision for online gambling.
Under the Bombay Wager Act, online gambling is a banned offense in the state of Maharashtra while the other states deal with online based on the existing government’s outlook towards such activities. In Sikkim, for instance, a provisional license can be obtained under the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 to operate online gambling within the territories of Sikkim.
With the advent of internet, betting has become borderless and requires no physical proximate. Debates over the approach to handle online gambling have taken place earlier also. George Oborne, the Managing Director of IndiaBet.com, said, “It’s entirely inadequate to use a 19th century law. Gambling law needs to be rewritten.”
Many experts believe that regulating online betting is a good way to approach the problem of match-fixing. In a report published by FICCI, it was made clear how regulated betting might not completely solve the problem of fixing, but will make it easier to track, investigate and catch anomalies by monitoring betting patterns.
Another common view shared by the experts on this matter is that the complete banning on online betting is not a viable option as the judiciary is not equipped currently to face the technological challenges that banning will pose. It might also make the gambling industry seem much more lucrative leading to emergence of an uncontrolled black market.
The current laws are ambiguous and challenge the judiciary’s ability to counter match-fixing and online sports betting. Though, the judiciary deems gambling as an immoral activity, but it lacks specific laws that deal with the issue of online gambling.