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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

BCCI ACU chief calls for legalising betting

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI’s) Anti Corruption Unit head Ajit Singh Shekhawat suggested that legalising betting and bringing a strong law against cheating in sport would help in tackling issues of match-fixing in cricket.

Shekhawat, who was the Director General of Police in Rajasthan before taking charge of BCCI’s Anti-corruption Unit in April 2018, gave his suggestions in an interview. This was after 12 cricketers, including national and international, reported corrupt approaches in the last one year, including the Tamil Nadu Premier League came under scanner for suspected activity and a woman cricketer also reported an approach from a bookie.

“It is not unstoppable. We probably require a law against it, a match-fixing law. If there is a clear law against it, police will also have a clear cut role,” Shekhawat said.

Legalised betting is another way to deal with corruption in the game, the ACU chief added and noted that such a move would also generate massive amount of tax revenue for the government.

“Maybe there could be a thinking about legalising gambling so that all this illegal business which goes on can be controlled. Legal betting will be done under some parameters and it can be controlled.

“It will also bring a huge amount of revenue for the government, close to what the excise department generates. The amount of money which is bet on sport is mindboggling,” said the retired IPS officer.

He said a move like this would also help keep a tab on the people involved as well as the money.

“Revenue is not the only consideration, there could be other issues which the government has in mind. I am not saying categorically that it should be legalised but it should be considered. It could be regulated when it is legalised, right now it is totally illegal.

Once it is legalised you will also get the data on who is betting and how much he is betting. And while doing that, make illegal betting tougher. Right now you can get away with a fine of few hundreds or a few thousands,” he noted.

Several independent bodies including the Supreme Court appointed Lodha and Mudgal committees on BCCI reforms, the Law Commission of India and some officials in the International Cricket Council (ICC) have advocated legalising and regulating betting to curb illegal activities and match-fixing.

The BCCI has however opposed any move to legalise betting in its submissions to the Supreme Court in 2016.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

AIGF writes to BJP and Congress urging inclusion of online gaming regulation in party manifestos

The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has written to the manifesto committees of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the principal opposition party, the Indian National Congress, suggesting inclusion legalisation and regulation of online gaming and sports betting as one of the promises in their party manifestos, that will be released for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections starting next month.

AIGF in its suggestion has noted that the online gaming industry can generate substantial revenues to the exchequer, create jobs, ensure responsible gaming and also curb and eliminate illegal activities like match fixing and money laundering if brought under formal regulation and taxed rationally.

The gaming body also added in its submission to the national political parties that the Law Commission of India in its 276th report had also recommended that regulation of betting and gambling remains the only viable option before the government if a complete ban on the activities cannot be achieved.

Noting that AIGF approached the two major national political parties since both the organisations had invited suggestions from the public on issues that can be included in their party manifestos, Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF stated, “It is commendable that the two main political parties have looked at inclusiveness and suggestions from people across the country in their manifestos. We wanted to highlight this critical issue of regulation in the online gaming industry, that has long been ignored but is the need of the hour and hence have sent our suggestions to the respective committees highlighting the benefits that will accrue to all stakeholders.”

In December last year, senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill in parliament seeking legalisation and regulation of online sports betting within a licensed framework.  AIGF wants an assurance from Congress and BJP in their manifestos that a similar law be introduced by the central government if their organisation comes to power.

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Legal & Regulatory

Shashi Tharoor to introduce new Bill in Lok Sabha to regulate sports betting, penalise match-fixing

Exclusive Thiruvananthapuram MP and senior Congress leader Dr. Shashi Tharoor is going to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to regulate sports betting and penalise match-fixing in the lower house of parliament later today, as per the revised list of business issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat.

The Bill, titled the Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018 is aimed to introduce an effective regime to maintain the integrity of sports in India by preventing and penalising sports fraud and for regulation of online sports gaming, as per the Lok Sabha’s agenda.

The private member’s bill is expected to focus on defining and creating a new offence of sports fraud that will prevent manipulation of sports matches. The Bill may also establish a national level regulatory framework to license and regulate online sports betting with certain restrictions and guidelines.

The Law Commission in its 276th Report titled ‘Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India’ submitted to the government in July this year had recommended that match-fixing and sporting fraud should be made a criminal offence with stringent penalties. The law panel had also noted that if betting and gambling cannot be effectively banned, then parliament or state legislatures should consider legalising it under a strict regulatory framework and subject to several guidelines.

Subject to smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha today, Dr. Tharoor’s Bill is scheduled to come up for introduction and a brief speech. The reaction of parliamentarians from various parties, particularly of the treasury benches would be interesting to see, especially since the legislation deals with something that was recommended by the Law Commission of India.

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Legal & Regulatory

Govt replies to Amar Singh’s query on legalising gambling

The central government has tabled a statement in parliament in reply to Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh’s query on legalising gambling and betting.

Union Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled a statement in the Rajya Sabha on 14th December stating that the Law Commission of India has categorically stated that legalising gambling and betting is not desirable in the present scenario and a complete ban must be ensured. Further, Prasad stated that the commission has added that if a complete ban cannot be ensured, then parliament and state legislatures should consider legalising gambling and betting with certain regulations and safeguards.

Singh had last week raised a starred question in the upper house demanding to know whether the Law Commission had recommended legalising gambling and betting and the action taken by the government in relation to the Law Commission’s recommendations.

The Law Minister in his statement laid out in the Rajya Sabha did not respond to Singh’s query on the action taken  or proposed by the government in relation to regulating sports betting.

Since the Rajya Sabha session on Friday was adjourned due to disruptions by some members, supplementary oral questions could not be asked to follow-up on the minister’s response.

It may be noted that the central government had given a similar response to queries on the Law Commission report raised by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members in the monsoon session of parliament earlier this year.

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Legal & Regulatory

Amar Singh raises starred question on legalising betting and gambling in Rajya Sabha

Exclusive Independent Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) and former Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh has raised a starred question on legalisation of gambling and betting in the Rajya Sabha.

Singh in his question has asked Union Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad to state whether the Law Commission of India has sent a proposal to legalise gambling and betting in the country.

He has further asked for the details of the Law Commission’s proposal and action proposed to be taken by the government on the Law Commission’s suggestions.

The starred question raised by Singh is scheduled to be answered by the Law Minister on 14th December. Members can also ask follow-up questions to the oral response that is required to be given by the government to starred questions.

In the monsoon session of Parliament held in July this year, two Rajya Sabha MPs, AIADMK’s Vijila Sathyananth  and Kerala Congress (Mani’s) Jose K. Mani had also raised similar starred questions.

Since the house did not function properly, a written response tabled by Prasad at the time stated that the Law Commission of India’s 276th report on gambling and betting and its recommendations are under consideration of the government.

In the same session of parliament, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice PP Chaudhary had given a similar response to the queries of six Lok Sabha MPs on the Law Commission’s recommendations and proposed steps to be taken by the government.

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Legal & Regulatory Poker

AIGF participates in educative session on skill games for judicial service members

Gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) participated in an interactive session on ‘Internet, Technology and New Age Games’ at a conference hosted by Delhi Judicial Academy (DJA) at the National Law University, Delhi on 5th October.

The session, which was attended by sessions court judges and public prosecutors from Delhi deliberated on the recent Law Commission of India’s recommendations on the desirability of regulating sports betting and gaming as well as the legal position of skill games like poker.

A 5-member AIGF team comprising of CEO Roland Landers; Essel Group Vice President Sunil Krishnamurthy; Nishith Desai Associates Senior Partner Gowree Gokhale and IIM-Kohzikode faculty member and AIGF advisor Deepak Dhayanithy apprised the participants of the DJA conference on the exemption for skill-based games under state statutes and the emerging trends in the sector.

They also discussed the elements of the game of poker with the members of the judiciary and presented their views on how skill outweighs chance in the game of poker.

Commenting on the interaction on skill games, AIGF CEO Roland Landers noted, “AIGF is delighted to get the opportunity present the session on behalf of the online skill gaming industry at the DJA. The session was interactive and gave a great platform to highlight why as online games of skill should ideally be governed by a national gaming commission’ instead of state laws.”

Muskan Sethi, the only professional poker player in the country to be honoured by the President of India as a ‘woman achiever’ shared the following update on her Facebook page:  “It was an honor to address the Judiciary System of India at the Core Competence Conference on strengthening of justice delivery system through integration of knowledge, skill and attitude.

Poker was the center of attention while dissecting “Internet , Technology & New Age Games’. Majority of them were positive, curious and intrigued while few of them had a preconceived idea of Poker.. respecting everyone’s opinion, I took this opportunity to clear all the misconceptions about poker in that room full of judges.”

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Six Lok Sabha MPs ask govt about betting legalisation, minister gives written reply

Six Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Lok Sabha raised an unstarred question in Parliament today on the central government’s plan to legalise and regulate betting and gambling in the country.

The six parliamentarians, R. Gopalakrishnan, C. Gopalakrishnan, K. Maragatham, P. Nagarajan (all from AIADMK); Raksha Khadse and Narendra Sawaikar (both from BJP) asked the government seven questions in relation to the Law Commission’s recommendation to regulate gambling and allow foreign investment in the casino sector as well as caps on bets and other proposed restrictions. The parliamentarians also sought to know the government’s reaction to the Law Commission’s suggestions.

PP Chaudhary, the Union Minister of State for Law, Justice and Corporate Affairs in a written response tabled in the Lok Sabha reiterated the Law Commission’s clarificatory press note which stated that legalising gambling and betting in India is not desirable in the present scenario, and that a complete ban on unlawful gambling and betting must be ensured .

He further added that the Law Commission’s report is under consideration of the government. The reply is very similar to Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s response to the Rajya Sabha last week on the Law Commission’s betting legalisation recommendations and the central government’s response.

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Legal & Regulatory

Ravi Shankar Prasad says Law Commission report on betting under consideration, tables statement in RS

Exclusive Union Minister for Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a statement tabled in the Rajya Sabha has stated that the 276th Law Commission report on betting and gambling is ‘under consideration of the Government.’

The minister also referred to the clarificatory press note issued by the Law Commission stating that it had strongly and categorically recommended that legalising gambling and betting is not recommended in the present scenario.

Prasad’s statement also ennumerates various safeguards suggested by the law panel in case the state or central government’s decide to regulate these activities (full text of the Law Minister’s statement reproduced at the end of this article).

The Union Law Minister issued the statement in response to a starred question from AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth who asked whether the Law Commission has recommended regulation of gambling as the only viable option. She also sought to know if the commission had recommended cap on the number of bets that can be placed and other safeguards.

Prasad laid a similar statement on another question on the Law Commission’s recommendations that was raised by Kerala Congress (M) member Jose K. Mani.

Since an unscheduled parliamentary holiday was declared on 27th July and on account of disruptions in the upper house of parliament thereafter, a discussion on supplementary questions to the starred question could not take place.

Law Commission report on regulation of gambling in sports
112 . Smt. Vijila Sathyananth
(a) whether it is a fact that the Law Commission has submitted a report to the Government proposing that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option left is to regulate gambling in sports;(b) if so, the details thereof;

(c) whether it is also a fact that the Panel wants the Government to introduce a cap on the number of gambling transactions for each individual; and

(d) if so, the details thereof?

ANSWER
ANSWER

MINISTER OF LAW & JUSTICE AND ELECTRONICS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
(SHRI RAVI SHANKER PRASAD)

(a) to (d) A statement is laid on the Table of the House.

STATEMENT REFFERED TO IN RESPECT OF RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO. *112 DATED 27TH JULY , 2018

(a) & (b) The Law Commission of India submitted its 276th report titled “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India” to Government on 05.07.2018. In 276th report and press note for clarification uploaded on Law Commission of India’s official website the Commission clarifies that vide para 9.7 of the report on page 115, it has been strongly and categorically recommended that legalising betting and gambling in india in the present scenario is not desirable , and that a complete ban on unlawful betting and gambling must be ensured. Again vide para 9.8, it has been recommended that effective regulation remains the only viable option to control gambling, if it is not possible to enforce a complete ban in order to prevent unlawful activities and the commission has recommended a number of guidelines and safeguards, in the event Parliament or the State Legislatures decide to regulates to these activities.

(c) and (d) Law Commission of India recommended/suggested on page no.116 in para 5 of the Chapter IX that Gambling and betting, if any should be offered only by Indian licensed operators from India possessing valid licences granted by the game licensing authority. For participants, there must be a cap on the number of transactions an individual can indulge in these activities in a specific period, i.e, monthly, half-yearly or yearly. The nature of stakes should be restricted to money with a linkage of PAN card and Aadhaar card, and the betting amount should be prescribed by law having an upper limit on the amount one can legally stake in gamble, which may be on the basis of the deposit, winnings or losses. The said report is under consideration of the Government.

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Legal & Regulatory

MPs question govt on Law Commission betting report; Law Minister to answer in Parliament tomorrow

Exclusive Two Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised starred questions on the status of the recent Law Commission report that recommended on gambling and betting and action that is proposed to be taken by the government.

AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth has asked whether ‘the Law Commission has submitted a report to the Government proposing that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option is to regulate gambling in sports’.

Sathyananth has further sought to know whether the law panel has recommended a cap on the number of bets that can be placed by each individual. She has further demanded full details of the proposal by the Law Commission and action taken by the central government.

Newly elected Kerala Congress (M) MP Jose K. Mani has also raised a similar question asking whether the Law Commission has indeed recommended legalising betting since a ban has driven these activities underground. Mani has also sought to know from the central government whether the state of Kerala has been running its various lottery schemes in a transparent manner.

The questions raised by both MP’s are scheduled to be answered in the Rajya Sabha by Union Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar  Prasad tomorrow. Since both questions are starred questions, Prasad will have to give oral responses on the floor of the house during question hour. Members can also ask supplementary questions to the responses given to starred questions and grill the minister on the government’s policy pertaining to gambling and betting.

The Law Commission of India in its 276th report dated 5th July, 2018 had stated that betting and gambling may be regulated under stringent set of guidelines if the government is unable to implement a ban on such activities. In what was seen to be an attempt to backpedal on the recommendations, the commission issued a clarification the next day, stating that it had strongly recommended a ban on all forms of gambling and betting and regulation could only be considered if a complete ban does not work.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Congress, CPI lambast move to legalise betting; Law Commission forced to clarify

India’s leading opposition party, the Congress party, targeted the Narendra Modi-led central government for focusing on legalising gambling and betting when the economy is in distress.

Commenting on the Law Commission’s recommendation to consider regulation of gambling and betting, Congress spokesperson and former union minister, Manish Tewari said in a press conference that the move will have a negative impact on the socio-economic condition of the country.

He noted,  “If you legalise betting on sports, not only will you destroy sports, but turn every ‘paan (betel leaf) shop’ of this country into a ‘juye ka adda’ (gambling den).”

He further stated, “The reason why most of the Indian states do not have lottery or the fact that lottery is banned, is because of the extremely negative social implications of gambling.”

Similarly, Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy also opposed the legalisation of betting and gambling and stated that legalisation of betting and gambling would create a lot of problems and leave room for cheating.

He however added that the issue is yet to be officially discussed within his party.

He further commented, “If betting and gambling are legalised, it will create lots of problems. My initial reaction is negative about it.”

In the meanwhile, the Law Commission of India issued a clarification on the report submitted to the central government. In a u-turn of sorts, the Commission clarified that legalising betting and gambling is not desirable at present and the suggestion to regulate gambling/betting should be considered by the parliament or state legislatures in future, only if a complete ban is not effective.

The commission in a clarificatory press note stated: “Vide para 9.7 of the Report on page 115, it has been strongly and categorically recommended that legalising  betting and gambling in the present scenario is not desirable and a complete ban on unlawful betting and gambling must be ensured. Again, vide para 9.8, it has been recommended that effective regulation remains the only viable option to control gambling, if it is not possible to enforce a complete ban in order to prevent unlawful activities and the Commission has recommended a number of guidelines and safeguards, in the event the Parliament or the State Legislatures decide to regulate these activities.” (original emphasis of the Law Commission)