Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Columns of the World's leading Gambling Lawyer-For GLaws readers

Professor I. Nelson Rose is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on gambling laws. He has published more than 1,500 works on gambling and related issues. His works are often cited in U.S. courts and he has testified as an expert in various Common Law countries. His book titled “Gambling and the Law” is considered to be the best treatise on gambling laws so far.

Professor Rose’s website Gambling and the Law contains some of his articles and columns and is a must read for any reader interested in knowing about the happenings of the gaming industry. Professor Rose’s profile on Wikipedia can be accessed here.

The master of gambling laws

Professor Rose has been kind enough to allow his articles to be published on our website. I am reproducing his article titled ‘Gaming Education in Asia’ where he speaks about the development of gaming law as a branch of law and predicts Asia to be ‘one of the fastest growing gaming markets in the world.’ While the article speaks of the gaming centers in Macao, Singapore and Japan; his insights would be relevant to India where casinos have been running successfully in Goa and Sikkim.

Gaming Education in Asia

Should the government on Taiwan follow the integrated resorts model of Singapore, or the casinos first, everything else second model of Macau? And should it depend primarily on patrons from Mainland China, or attempt to attract more local players, say, by building a tunnel from Penghu to Formosa?

As for Singapore — will the S$100 per day fee for residents work to help compulsive gamblers? Or will it hurt the casinos, the way restrictions on locals have left so many casinos in South Korea struggling?

When is Japan going to legalize casinos, and what will it do with its enormous grey-market pachinko industry? Will the plans for massive expansions in the Philippines and Vietnam succeed? Will Thailand be the next to legalize casinos?

And what about China itself, where the Peoples Republic of China has now experimented not only with Macau, but also with video lottery terminals and betting on horseracing?

All of these Asian gaming issues have one thing in common: They are all actually being studied in Asia, in respected universities.

But the movement to bring gaming into academia is still in its early stages, and not only in Asia.

Professor William R. Eadington of the University of Nevada, Reno, deserves the credit for the breakthrough treatment of legal gambling as a respectable area for study. He created the 1st International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking in 1974, “as a venue for the presentation of academic research on gambling issues.” Fifteen years later, he founded the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, which he correctly describes as “the first academically oriented program of its kind.”

Ten years later, I began teaching the first law school class on Gaming Law. Today, there are two rival organizations of gaming lawyers, the International Association of Gaming Advisors and the International Masters of Gaming Law, and an International Association of Gaming Regulators.

But in the early days, gaming as an area of serious study met resistance, even in Nevada. In Fall 1993 and Spring 1994, I was the first Visiting Scholar at the Institute in Reno. I taught Gaming Law to undergraduates, graduates, practitioners and regulators; at the time, it was the only Gaming Law class taught in the entire state of Nevada.

Today, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has its own Center of Gaming Research, headed by noted researcher and librarian David G. Schwartz; the William S. Boyd School of Law; and an International Gaming Institute. The late Shannon Bybee, one of my co-authors on the first Gaming Law casebook, was director of the Gaming Institute. He was followed by Patricia Becker, who also was an outstanding casino executive, regulator and gaming lawyer.

And on August 2, 2006, the university opened its first international campus, UNLV Singapore Harrah Hotel College. The Singapore campus now offers an Executive Masters Degree in Hospitality Administration and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Administration.

But Singapore was not the first Asian country to see an academic program related to gambling.

The University of Macau inaugurated the groundbreaking Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming (ISCG) in 2003. The University even recruited an expert poker player as the ISCG’s first director, Canadian professor Jason Z. Gao.

As a coincidence, I was teaching International Gaming Law to both American and Chinese law students at Sun Yat-Sen University in Zhuhai, just across the border from Macau, in June 2004. This gave me the chance to present a guest lecture at the University and for my students and me to tour the newly opened and fantastically successful Sands.

The ISCG’s current director, Dr. Davis K.C. Fong, described the “three levels of training program in our center:” Up to this moment, we have conducted 3 batches (150 students total) of Diploma in Casino Management (one-year). All of them are part-time students and 95% of them are working at different casinos in Macau. In 2008 the ISCG set up the first Executive Development Program (we call it GAME), which aims to train middle- to high-level casino employees. Beside this, we have conducted several training programs or seminars (tailor-made) for different interested parties from Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, and the U.S.

According to Prof. Ricardo C.S. Siu, Gaming Management Program Coordinator, the University of Macau’s Faculty of Business Administration has reacted to the explosion of interest in integrated resorts by revising the program “into a new B.Sc. in Gaming and Hospitality, to be effective from Fall 2009.” Around 40 students will be provided common knowledge about the modern business of casino resorts. After completing the first two years of studies, students could select from two streams (concentrations) — Gaming Management, and Convention and Hospitality Management. In addition, they could use related major electives to enhance their professional knowledge in particular areas (e.g., customer service management, topics in data analysis, event management, etc.)

I have been fortunate for the last few years to be co-teaching a post-graduate class in Gaming Law at the University of Macau with Prof. Jorge A.F. Godinho. The University kept up its ties with the Portuguese-speaking world, so our students, most already lawyers, have been from Angola, Mozambique and East Timor, as well as China.

The Faculty of Law masters program is based on the European model, so students have to write and defend a thesis before a jury composed of three professors. In February I helped in the questioning of three lawyers from mainland China on “Legal Issues of Pathological Gambling,” “A Legal Study of Casino Credit” and “Legal Issues on Lotteries in China.” All were awarded LL.M.s. Prof. Godinho tries to find jobs for the students and to keep as many as possible in Macau, if that is where they want to pursue their legal careers.

The University of Macau’s friendly competitor, Macao Polytechnic Institute (MPI), has also begun to accept gaming as a legitimate area of academic research. Dr. Wuyi Wang of MPI’s Center of Social Economic Studies, has led the way, including co-authoring papers on Macau’s VIP rooms with Prof. Eadington.

MPI, Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies, and the Macao Tourism and Casino Career Center team up each year with the China Center for Lottery Studies (CCLS) at Peking University for an International Conference of the Gaming Industry and Public Welfare, held in Beijing. According to Wang Xuehong, Ph.D., CCLS’s Executive Director, before the current economic crisis, lottery sales alone in mainland China were growing 50% per year.

All this in a technically communist country that banned gambling in 1949 as a “social evil,” lumping it in with drugs and prostitution.

Japan is the last major industrialized nation to not have casinos. If that changes, it will be due to the ground works laid down in academic conferences organized by Ichiro Tanioka, Ph.D., head of the Osaka University of Commerce and a world-champion go player, and others, including Prof. Sasaki Kazuaki, Nihon University Tokyo, and Dr. Jan McMillen, Director of the Australian National University Center for Gambling Research.

Once the economic recession/depression is over — and there are signs we are already off the bottom — Asia will once again be the fastest growing gaming market in the world.

Legal & Regulatory

RTI application filed to seek clarity on gambling laws

I had filed a complaint with the Chief Information Commission (CIC) after the Right to Information (RTI) application filed by me did not get any response. The details of the RTI application and the appeal can be accessed here.

However since the CIC has not acted upon the appeal so far, I decided to redraft the RTI application and file a fresh application with the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice. I have drafted the application in such a manner that the Public Information Officer (PIO) cannot come up with any reason to deny the information sought.

I am now listing the questions asked by me in the RTI application:

A. Kindly give full summary, status, certified copies and details as to the number of corruption cases filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau and/or any other agency against any employee of your department.

B. Kindly give full summary, status, certified copies and details as to the number of disproportionate assets cases filed against any employee of your department.

C. Kindly give full summary, certified copies of file and or electronic noting and details as to the advice given to other ministries, reference notes, reports, case filings, advisory or any other document either in hard copy or electronic form relating to any gambling, betting or lottery provision, including online gambling, betting and lotteries.
D. Kindly give details and certified copies as to any noting, advisory, report, case filing or any other document relating to Section 30 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

E. Please provide details and certified copies as to any advice, report, case filings or any other document in possession of the Ministry suggesting changes in existing provisions on skill based card games, including poker and rummy.

The period to which the information relates: Last twenty years.

It would be the government’s duty to provide answers to the above mentioned queries in public interest. It would be necessary to get answers to these questions to clear ambiguities in gambling law provisions and to be updated on gambling law reforms contemplated by the government.


The Economist debate on Gambling

The Economist had an interesting online debate on whether there should be legal restrictions on gambling. The debate can be accessed here Though most issues were argued keeping in mind the sentiments of Americans, the arguments were nonetheless convincing. The debate was ultimately decided in favour of allowing gambling without restrictions (though by a very small margin), vindicating the consistent stand taken by us.


While in India there is considerable consensus that gambling laws should be reformed, it would be interesting to know the readers views on allowing gambling with minimum government control through comments and suggestions.


Rs. 7,000 crore illegal lottery scam exposed

Lotteries are banned in 17 Indian states, while it is legal to purchase lotteries in the remaining 12 states. However there is an enormous craze for lotteries even in the states where it is banned. This has led to the increasing sale of illegal lotteries across the country. In fact, even in states where lotteries are legal, illegal lottery rackets are rampant because of the stringent provisions of the Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998.

The Lotteries Regulation Act lays down various conditions which have to be complied by all lottery promoting state governments. Some of these conditions are: the state government must print the tickets, the proceeds of the ticket sale must be credited into the public account of the state, the state government shall conduct the draw of all lotteries and no lottery shall have more than one draw per week. It is very difficult for businessmen to follow all these bureaucratic procedures which prompts them to market illegal lotteries.

The irregularities: Apart from illegally selling lotteries in states where they are prohibited, it is also alleged that the winning number always comes from the unsold tickets, people who have the winning combination are denied their prize and if at all given any prize, the amount given is less than the 75 percent (of the total prize money) statutorily fixed.

Illegal lotteries are clandestinely sold at teashops and newspaper stalls across the country. Experts estimate that lottery tickets worth at least Rs. 7,000 crore (out of the Rs.13,000 crore paper lotteries sold in India annually) are illegally sold. According to income tax and other law enforcement officials, lottery kingpin Santiago Martin is primarily responsible for all illegal lottery scams in India. Martin is a 42 year old businessman with powerful political connections. He claims to run legitimate lottery agencies in states where lotteries are not banned. Martin has friends in almost all political parties.

Martin’s clout: Martin regularly contributes to the CPI (M) fund in Kerala, is allegedly close to top Central Congress leaders and DMK patriarch MK Karunanidhi. The fact that Martin regularly contributes to CPI (M) became known when his Rs. 2 crore donation to CPM newspaper Deshabhiami was leaked due to party infighting. In fact Martin is so close to Karunanidhi that he is making movies based on his writings.

Lack of political will: Investigation agencies are ready to probe matters related to this paper lottery scam and Martin’s involvement, but Martin’s powerful political friends stop all investigations. In fact, an FIR was filed in Chennai and Tamil Nadu CID sleuths grilled martin and his associates, after which they confessed the charges. No action has been taken thereafter and Martin is out on bail. It would not be difficult to infer that political pressure has stopped all investigations in the matter.

What will happen now? In all probability, no action will be taken against Martin and his lottery business will continue. Anuj Sharma DIG and Inspector General of the West Bengal CID is quoted as saying, “No one complains formally (about the illegal lottery racket) because of the fear of Martin and his men.”

To ensure that no fingers are pointed towards him, Martin has a legitimate front: He is the sole distributor of 28 Sikkim lotteries, 17 Tamil Nadu lotteries and 6 Arunachal Pradesh lotteries. Moreover, Martin remains reclusive and is hardly seen in the public domain. Thus, few people would know about his role in the lottery business. A fair judicial probe is the only hope to ensure that gullible people are not looted by bogus claims of making them rich overnight.

BJP leader Vijay Goel spearheaded the banning of single digit lotteries in Delhi and is going to introduce the Lottery Prohibition Bill in Parliament. Unless the law becomes clear on the subject, this racket is likely to continue.

Source: Article titled “The Trader of Shadow fortunes” published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 06, dated 13 February, 2010. Available online at

P.S. More articles to follow as soon as more information about the lotteries scam and Santiago Martin becomes available in the public domain. Efforts are on to bring transparency and accountability.

Read more about Kerala state lottery.

Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Gaming Law as a career

Gaming law is the set of laws and regulations that apply to the gambling, lottery, betting and virtual gaming industry.   A good gaming lawyer must have good knowledge of all traditional branches of law like Constitutional law, Taxation law, Contract law, Criminal law and Cyber law.

The concept of gaming law: Gaming law as a legal profession has developed in North America and Europe, where gambling and lotteries have seen tremendous growth in the recent past and are well-regulated and in most countries legal. There are numerous lawyers in U.S.A., U.K. and Germany exclusively dealing with gaming law cases. With the online gambling and virtual gaming alone industry worth more than $ 21 billion and a projected growth rate of more than 15% a year (add to that, the exponential rise in land-based casinos), these gaming operators are likely to need a lot of legal help in the near future.

An organisation called the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) comprising of numerous gaming lawyers from North America and Europe has been formed to monitor developments in gaming laws.  Such associations only indicate the rise in the demand for gaming lawyers and a need for a lobby to reform these laws.

Gaming law in India: Gaming law has not developed as a field of practice because in most states of India gambling and lotteries are illegal. However, budding lawyers have a reason to cheer!!!

It is expected that this field of law will attract a number of good legal professions in the near future as the Ministry of Law and Justice is study a proposal to legalise gambling. A lot of social affairs writers and businessmen have also been vociferous critics of the ban on gambling. So, one can reasonably expect the gambling sector to be opened up in the near future.

Scope and opportunities: The illegal gambling industry earns more than Rs. 50,000 crore a year.  Add to that the Rs.30, 000 crore legal gambling and lottery business and Rs. 15,000 crore illegal lottery rackets. And if foreign investments are allowed in the gambling business (currently India does not allow foreign investment on lotteries and gambling), there will be no limits to the growth of this sector.

Such a big industry, which would be governed by a maze of laws and regulations, would certainly need good lawyers to sort out their legal issues.

What does a gaming lawyer do?

A typical gaming lawyer works in a casino or gambling works in the legal department of casino, gambling company, state gaming, gambling or lottery departments as consultants. They have to obviously be well versed with the country’s gaming laws. Gaming lawyers also have to monitor recent developments in tax laws, municipal regulations and other local restrictions that may apply.

Another important function of gaming lawyers includes lobbying with politicians urging for reforms in certain laws restricting gambling. Gaming lawyers also have to often lobby to get clearances for local gambling projects.

In addition to all of this gaming lawyers also have to research about social issues surrounding gambling. For example, gaming lawyers may have to find a solution for social problems like crime and addiction that gambl
ing causes. In addition to this, they may have to convince local people and officials of the feasibility and utility of setting up casinos.

A slightly modified version of this article was first published on Lawctopus,a website dedicated to law students and law school aspirants.  The article can be viewed at

Legal & Regulatory

A Spot of Bother? Part II

The recent spot-fixing scandal has once again brought to fore the inadequacies in Indian gambling laws. In this second article of this two part series, we shall first discuss the recent spot-fixing scandal involving Pakistani cricketers and later point out the legal difficulties in prosecuting sports-persons and bookmakers involved in match-fixing and spot-fixing.

The recent spot-fixing and match-fixing controversies: Journalists from the London tabloid News of the World approached U.K. based bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, posing as members of a Far-Eastern betting syndicate. Mazhar boasts of fixing many matches and claims to ‘manage’ the accounts of various Pakistani cricketers. In a sting operation conducted by News of the World, the undercover reporters hand-over 140,000 GBP to Mazhar in exchange for giving information as to which balls would be ‘no-balls’ in the August 2010 Pakistan-England Lord’s Test match. It happens exactly as Mazhar predicted. Prominent Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, among others are suspected to be involved in this ‘spot-fixing’ scandal. In fact, Mazhar claims to have ‘fixed’ various other matches, allegedly with the knowledge and help of certain Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials. The International Cricket council (ICC) is now investigating 82 tests and ODI’s for possible match-fixing.

Legal provisions: There are no clear provisions in India to punish bookmakers guilty of ‘bribing’ sportspersons despite it being morally unacceptable. Further, there are absolutely no legal provisions to penalise sportspersons guilty of under-performing or cheating. ‘Fixing’ matches neither falls under the purview of ‘cheating’ as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor under ‘corruption’ as defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The various State gambling laws or the Public Gambling Act, 1867 (adopted by various States) are extremely lenient in punishing bookmakers carrying out illegal betting operations, while remaining silent on the issue of cheating in sports. Thus, a bookmaker accepting bets worth millions of dollars would be able to get away with a small fine of a few thousand rupees or at most a prison term of a few months. However, since most of the betting syndicates are run by the underworld using illicit funds; the money used to ‘bribe’ sportspersons would almost certainly be ‘black’ money or laundered money, those guilty of carrying out illegal betting operations and ‘fixing’ matches would almost certainly be punished under money laundering, organised crimes and tax evasion provisions. It is however a different matter that given the strict standards of admissibility of evidence, it is extremely difficult to prove these offences.

The sportspersons guilty of under-performing and cheating in most cases escape criminal liability. However, the guilty sportsmen face disciplinary action (including suspension, ban, fine and ostracism).

Mazhar Majeed may be let off: Mazhar Majeed, currently out on bail as the Scotland Yard and other agencies are investigating allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing may not be prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has reportedly expressed doubts over whether there is enough evidence and provisions to prosecute Mazhar. Under current UK laws, it would be difficult to build a case against Mazhar or any of the Pakistani cricketers. It would be difficult to apply the provisions of cheating under the Gambling Act as ‘News of the World’ has not gained any money by getting the information. Anyways, information only about ‘no-balls’ is hardly beneficial for betting. It would also be difficult to apply provisions related to fraud and cheating.

The curious case of Mohammad Azharuddin: It is clear that those accused of fixing matches should be punished severely and strict disciplinary action should be taken against those guilty. Match-fixing makes billions of cricket fans across the world feel ‘cheated’ and robs them of their right to enjoy watching competitive, engaging cricket. Thus in the absence of strong legal provisions, the respective sport associations are expected to take stringent disciplinary action. However, it is sad to note-that instead of punishing the match-fixers, they are instead rewarded. Take Mohammad Azharuddin’s example- a prolific batsman, former Indian captain and one of India’s cricketing legends. After the 2000 match-fixing scandal, Azharuddin was banned for life from the game of cricket. A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report found him guilty of accepting bribes from illegal betting syndicates for under-performing. Azharuddin himself admitted to fixing three matches.

The curious case of Mohammad Azharuddin

Reward for match-fixing: However, the BCCI revoked Azharuddin’s ban in 2006 and felicitated him publicly. Now a Court verdict in this matter is awaited. Moreover, instead of ostracizing Azharuddin for his misconduct- the Congress party fielded him as its 2009 Lok Sabha candidate from Moradabad in UP. He defeated his nearest rival by a margin of 50,000 votes.  This will just embolden our country’s sportspersons and cricketers across the world to cheat, under-perform and fix matches. Moreover, this will demoralise and infuriate billions of cricket fans in India who have been robbed of their entertainment.

My thanks to Nishant Gokhale, student of NUJS. Many of the ideas expressed in this article are based on Nishant’s research paper titled ‘Fixing the Fixers: The Justification of Criminal Liability for Match-Fixing’, published in the NUJS Law Review (2 NUJS L. Rev. 319 2009).  The research paper can be accessed at

Legal & Regulatory

A Spot of Bother? Part I

The recent spot-fixing scandal has once again brought to fore the inadequacies in Indian gambling laws.  In the first of this two article series, we will examine the meaning and history of match-fixing and spot-fixing, while in the second part we will discuss the recent spot-fixing scandal and point out the deficiencies in law in dealing with match-fixing and bookmakers.

What is match-fixing and spot-fixing? Match-fixing is said to have occurred when the mach or game is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result. Players often agree to under-perform when offered monetary incentives, in most cases at the bookmaker’s instance-where the bookmakers stand to earn huge profits if the match is tilted in favour of one side.

Spot-fixing, a relatively new concept first popularly used after the 2010 scandal involving Pakistani cricketers’ was unearthed is the deliberate under-performance at pre-determined intervals of the game or specified brackets. For example- a batsman deliberately slowing down the run-rate or bowlers bowling a ‘no-ball’ at the start of a certain over.

History, origin and usage of the term ‘match-fixing’:

I am now reproducing an excerpt of Nishant Gokhale’s article ‘Fixing the Fixers: The Justification of Criminal Liability for Match-Fixing, published in the NUJS Law Review (2 NUJS L. Rev. 319 2009) which would be helpful in understanding the concept of match-fixing. Nishant has researched extensively on match-fixing and gambling laws.  The article is available online at

It was as early as 1919 in the United States of America (hereinafter USA or US), there were  allegations that various members of the Chicago ‘White Sox’ agreed to ‘throw’ the 1919 Baseball World Series in exchange for money.’ The sport of boxing has been long plagued by allegations of ‘fixing’. It is widely believed that the 1965 heavyweight championship fight between Sonny Listonand Mohammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) was fixed on orders from the underworld,and that Liston purposely lost when he fell to a ‘phantom punch’. In March 1999 the fight between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis ended in a controversial draw and was allegedly fixed by Don King to ensure a lucrative re-match. This phenomenon has been observed not only in the US, but even in countries such as Japan where serious allegations of ‘rigging’ of sumo-wrestling matches have been levied, largely due to the structure of the tournaments. Such incidents of ‘fixing’ are not only restricted to national or international level sports but even in at the supranational level.

An instance of this was seen at the 2002 Olympic Games when a Russian gangster was arrested for trying to use his influence with members of the Russian and French skating federations in order to fix the outcome of the pairs and ice dancing competitions at the 2002 Olympics.’ The game of cricket also, has not been spared from this phenomenon and it was in the year 2000 that a controversy arose, which shook the very foundations of the game. This controversy was relating to the fixing of cricket matches and other related malpractices which allegedly involved links with the underworld and the illegal betting syndicates.

As can be rightly seen, although these instances are only indicative, it is quite clear that the phenomenon of fixing of matches is wide-spread irrespective of the country or the nature of the sport. Also, the common feature which can be observed in all of these instances, is the links of the allegations of match-fixing with the underworld as well as betting syndicates. To better understand this phenomenon, it would be helpful to explain what the term ‘match-fixing’ means.  It is with this view that I would wish to look into the specific allegations which were made with respect to the scandal in the year 2000. There were allegations that some players or groups of players had underperformed and bets were placed on such matches and on such players. Further, it had been alleged that information was passed on to betting syndicates about team composition, pitch conditions etc. and that even the pitches were specifically prepared, by the groundsmen, so as to suit the betting syndicates. It was even alleged that bookies used the influence of national and international cricketers to gain access to foreign players and thereby expand their betting syndicates. Therefore, although instances of ‘match-fixing’ in every sport may vary from a case-to-case basis, the above stated allegations will at least help build a theoretical framework on which the paper would be able to proceed.

To most people, match-fixing in cricket cannot be said to be an entirely unexpected occurrence because, sport, being at least partially, a reflection of today’s society and therefore, there is little wonder that immorality has reached into sport as well. However, the extent to which match-fixing had pervaded the game has led even the international regulators of the game, the ICC’s officials to find it ‘most disturbing’. This is because of the fact that cricket has, for long, been seen to be a sport which is a highly suitable model of a moral sport. In fact, the legendary cricket historian and writer, Sir Neville Cardus once stated: “If everything else in this nation of ours is lost but cricket, her Constitution and the Laws of England of Lord Halsbury, it would be possible to reconstruct from the theory and practice of cricket all the eternal Englishness which has gone to the establishment of that Constitution and the laws aforesaid.”

Therefore, although one might view this conduct of the cricketers indulging in match-fixing to be unbecoming of players of the ‘gentleman’s game’, the question that would arise is whether such allegations, if true, would or should invite anything more than a mere reproach from those who hold high regard for the spirit of the game. It is, for this purpose of seeking an answer to this question, that it is necessary to develop an understanding of the concepts of ‘spoiling’ and ‘cheating’ in sports.

I would like to thank Nishant Gokhale, student of NUJS for providing continuous help and encouragement.

Note: The relevant excerpts have been reproduced with the author’s permission.

Legal & Regulatory

Recent Kerala HC decision on lotteries

The Kerala High Court recently announced its verdict on lotteries from outside the state (notably Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries). A litigant secured an order from the Kerala High Court to restrict the number of draws to once a week.  However, a recent division bench order of the Kerala High Court has now vacated the earlier order.  It said that the government could have draws under different schemes. The Court also directed the Kerala government to collect advance tax from Megha distributors, promoters of Bhutan lotteries in Kerala. The issue of Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries being drawn is a matter of continuous controversy not just in Kerala but across India. Lotteries sponsored by the government of Sikkim, the Playwin lotteries (a company owned by the Essel Group) are the largest selling lotteries in India. The annual turnover of Playwin is over US $ 150 million (approximately Rs. 6,750 crores). We shall now look into the various legal, social, political and economic issues involved.

Legal issues: Respective State governments have the power to prohibit lotteries conducted, authorised or promoted by any other State under Section 5 of The Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998. There are various conditions which the State governments have to comply under the Central government enacted Lotteries (Regulation) Act. Some of these conditions are: the state government must print the tickets, the proceeds of the ticket sale must be credited into the public account of the state, the state government shall conduct the draw of all lotteries and no lottery shall have more than one draw per week.

The two most contentious in this legislation are: restricting the draws to one per week and prohibiting lotteries from other states. The Kerala High Court while passing the order said that the state government can have more than one draw per week under different schemes.

However, while there have been vociferous demands in Kerala to ban the ‘outside’ lotteries both the State and the Central Government are reluctant to ban these profitable lotteries promoted by powerful individuals. While it is the State Government’s prerogative to prohibit lotteries authorised by other states, the state government has conveniently passed on the blame to the Central government which has the power to prohibit organisation of lotteries, only if the said lotteries are in breach of the above-mentioned conditions.

Political issues: Kerala accounts for just 4 per cent of the lottery ticket sales in the State while Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries account for most of the remaining 96 per cent sales. Most of these Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries are run by promoters like Coimbatore based Santiago Martin, a man with friends in all political parties and the treasurer of the All India Federation of Lottery Trade and Allied Industries (AIFLTAI).   Law enforcement agencies suspect Martin of being the king pin of an illegal lottery racket worth thousands of crores. Martin has many cases of illegal lotteries and irregularities in his legitimate lottery business against him in Tamil Nadu.  However, with Abhishek Manu Singhvi- Congress spokesperson appearing on behalf of Martin owned Megha distributors and Tamil Nadu Advocate General stepping in to defend Martin, it seems that Martin’s remarkable clout will ensure that his lottery-business is never affected.

Economic and Social Issues: Lotteries are almost a part of Kerala’s landscape. Keralites spend more than Rs. 15,000 crore on lotteries every year. Though Indian Courts have on numerous occasions held that the business of conducting/promoting lotteries is not included under freedom of trade and profession; more than 400,000 people in Kerala alone depend on lottery-ticket selling for their livelihood.   Any measure to ban lotteries would thus be seen as an attempt to deprive the poor of their livelihoods.

List of news articles used: Bummer Ticket, p. 12 Outlook dated 13th September, 2010


Kaun Banega agla Mukhya Mantri? Betting frenzy over Chavan successor

India’s craze for gambling and betting is already well known.  However, India’s craze for wagers’ has reached a new high, with more than $100 million being placed on ‘Who is going to succeed Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra’s CM?’ in the wake of the Adarsh-Gate scandal.   (The recent scandal in which high-profile Maharashtra politicians where accused of grabbing flats meant for Kargil war widows).

Such widespread speculation on day-to-day events is not at all uncommon in India.  Bookies are known to illegally accept bets on the happening or non-happening of any frivolous event.

Examples of instances where bookies have accepted bets:

How much millimetres of rainfall are expected this monsoon in Mumbai?

What is going to be the gross-opening of Golmaal-3?

Which alliance is going to form the next government? (Before the 2009 general-elections)

India losing billions: By banning gambling India is losing billions of dollars by way of revenue.  As it is apparent from this kind of ‘betting-frenzy’, satta and betting transactions are almost considered to be legitimate forms of business by bookies, customers and the general public. Technically, it may be illegal to place bets on any such events, but a person wanting to do so can easily by approaching bookies.  The police neither have the resources nor the will to mount a crack-down on these betting activities.

Doesn’t it make sense to legalise gambling when people have already accepted it as a form of business activity? It is now rumoured that the Union Ministry of Law and Justice is studying proposals to legitimize gambling and betting.  Given the fragmentation and division within political parties, such legislation is not likely to be passed very easily.

See India Today article:

I also came across a couple of interesting articles by prominent social affairs commentator Anil Dharker. Dharker in these two articles, also makes interesting arguments in favour of legalising gambling. He is also of the opinion that legalising gambling will only reduce money laundering and underworld operations.

Link to the articles:

The gambling instinct is in all of us: So why make it illegal? DNA 21st September, 2010

The terrorism and underworld connect, DNA, 17th May, 2010.

What are the odds?

Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Information relating to gambling and lottery legislations cannot be disclosed: Government in response to an RTI query

I had filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) with the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs to bring clarity and clear confusion on different aspects of gambling and lottery legislations. However the Public Information officer (PIO) refused to disclose any information.

Details of the information sought

1)   Kindly give full details regarding the list of laws (including State and Central legislations, notifications, rules, bye-laws, ordinances etc.) regulating gambling and lotteries in India.

2)   Kindly give details regarding the laws (including State and Central legislations, notifications, rules, bye-laws, ordinances etc.) which either legalise or ban online gambling. What is the position of law on financing/participating in online gambling, including gambling on websites based outside India in all the States of India (individually)?

3)   Kindly give details of any notifications/advise/references to advise/notes/ reports given by your department to any other department, ministry or organisation with regard to recommendations or any other information which your department may have relating to passing, modifying, repealing or amending any legislation or changing/amending any existing legal provision on gambling, betting and lotteries, including online gambling.

4)    Are there any special provisions created for the State of Sikkim to conduct/authorise the conduct of lotteries? If yes, kindly give full details. What are the legal provisions for allowing casinos, gambling and betting in the State of Sikkim?

5)    What is the legal provision that allows lotteries from the Kingdom of Bhutan to be sold in India? Are lotteries from companies based outside India allowed to be sold/marketed/promoted in India? Kindly give full details of provisions regarding the same.

6)   What is the difference between betting, gambling and lotteries? What opinion, if any has been given by your department in that regard?

7)   Kindly give all relevant documents which your department may have, regarding any recommendation, report, note, references to advise or any other information relating to the amendment, modification or repeal of Section 30 of the Indian Contract Act, 1860.

Reasons given for denial of information

The PIO while denying information gave two reasons for denying information:

1)   Information sought amounts to legal opinion and is not covered within the ambit of ‘information’ under Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

2)   The subject matter of the information does not fall under the purview of the Department of Legal Affairs.

Why the denial of information is unfair

The reasons given by the PIO for denying information is unjust and against public interest.

Firstly, the details sought by the RTI application does not ask for the legal opinion of the Department of Legal Affairs but seeks opinion and advices given by the Legal affairs department to other Departments and Ministries:  Opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, reports, logbooks, electronic records etc. are all included under the definition of ‘information’ in Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act. Thus the PIO has misinterpreted my queries and wrongly construed my questions on the opinion rendered by the concerned department as asking for a legal opinion. And even if certain questions may not fall under the ambit of ‘information’ under the RTI that does not absolve the PIO from providing details relating to other questions.

The second contention of the matter not falling under the purview of the Legal Affairs Department also seems unsatisfactory. Under Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, it is the duty of the concerned department to transfer the application to other public authorities in case the information is held by another public authority or the subject matter of the information is closely connected with any other public authority.

Further, one of the primary functions of the Department of Legal Affairs is to advise and recommend reforms in legislations to other Ministries and Departments. The Legal Affairs department is also responsible for writing consultation papers and suggesting reforms.  (As per their website

What next?

I am now going to appeal to the Central Information Commission requesting the release of the information.  The information sought by me may be essential in clearing doubts regarding the legality of online gambling and certain dubious issues on gambling and lottery legislations. It must also be noted that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of this information. I hope that the response to the RTI query will clear many ambiguities and confusions.  Will post subsequent developments and responses.

Sincerely hoping to receive your wholehearted support in my endeavour to bring about reforms, transparency, accountability and clarity…