Sports Minister rules out legalising betting, may consider lottery to fund sports programmes

Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports and Youth Affairs, in an Idea Exchange conversation with The Indian Express unequivocally stated his opposition to legalising sports betting, noting that it is illegal and immoral.

Rijiju, when asked about his views on legalising betting in sports, said, “I am against any form of betting and gambling. It is illegal and immoral. ”

The sports minister however appeared open to the idea of floating lottery schemes and draws to raise funds for sports persons and sports infrastructure stating that using lottery draws as a means to support sports can be considered, as such a system had been successful in the UK.

While stating that there are several other means to raise funds for sports apart from lottery, he noted, “Lottery is a good system. Like the UK, many countries have this system and it has generated a lot of money… I have to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister. Things are at an early stage, and lottery is one of the options that we are looking at as a source of funding for future. But lottery should be thought about in a professional way, not for gambling.”

In September this year, Rijiju had expressed his hesitation at legalising betting, noting that it is a state subject, and thus all stakeholders had to be consulted. He had however cautioned that a move to legalise betting or gambling could have an impact on society.

In the past, the central government has consistently maintained that while it discourages the activity, betting and gambling is a state subject and state governments have the primary responsibility of framing their own policy on the issue.

Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Kiren Rijiju non-committal on sports betting legalisation

Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju in an interview given to daily Deccan Herald last week, appeared to not give any clear answer on the issue of rampant betting in sports and whether it should be legalised.

The Sports Minister in his reply to a question on sports betting in the interview, noted that his ministry, whenever it is made aware about it, tries to imposed a crackdown on illegal betting activities. He also noted that different states have to be taken on board before a decision can be taken on the issue.

He told Deccan Herald, “These are things that have a bearing on society. For example, in many countries, consuming alcohol is banned. We have always had a major crackdown on gambling. Whenever we are aware of it, we don’t allow it. But I agree that some cases remain off the hook. The ministry will have to consult different States before taking a call on this. The scenarios are different in different States. Like Sikkim has permitted casinos. As I said, whatever we decide, will have a bearing on society.”

Rijiju’s stance is similar to the written replies given by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to a query in the Lok Sabha few months ago, on banning online betting websites. Prasad had stated that betting and gambling are state subjects and that individual state governments are free to take a decision on the matter.

Last year, the Law Minister had on a few occasions stated that the 276th report of the Law Commission of India, which had recommended legalising betting as one of the alternatives, was under consideration of the government, without giving any definitive details about whether the government intends to take any action on the issue.

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.


FICCI & AIGF organise knowledge session on integrity in sports

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) jointly hosted a knowledge session for government officials, sports federation office-bearers and the media on ‘Integrity in sports and the need for regulating sports betting’ in New Delhi on 24th July.

The event saw guests like senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor, former Law Commission of India Chairman Dr. Balbir Singh Chauhan, Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi and former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia discuss the benefits of a regulatory framework for the online gaming industry and the pitfalls of not having a law to penalise sporting fraud.

Welcoming the gathering and setting the tone for the evening Siddharth Upadhyay, Co-Chair, FICCI Sports committee said, “FICCI has been a torchbearer in the field of sports development & propagating the idea of sports as an industry. We are thrilled to organize an event of this stature, wherein experts have gathered to talk about the importance of regularizing the gaming and sports industry.”

David Foster, Head of Regulatory Affairs of leading global online gaming giant GVC Holdings, while addressing the audience via video conference highlighted the importance of integrity in sports and stated, “Positive conduct by athletes, administrators, officials, supporters and other stakeholders, on and off the sporting arena is extremely important. This enhances the reputation and standing of the sporting contest and of sports overall.”

Dr. Shashi Tharoor in his address to the gathering said, “Long-term prognosis for sports and betting is bleak if corruption is not dealt with. While self-regulatory practices need to be followed by the industry, there is an urgent need to have a statutory framework with government oversight to ensure service providers are following license conditions to track suspicious betting patterns and to have some control over the money flow to curb the generation of black money.”

Tharoor added that while the private member’s bill introduced by him, namely the Sports (Online Gaming & Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018 has lapsed due to the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha, he would be meeting Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju and present him a copy of the Private Member’s Bill drafted by him, with the request that the government bring out a Bill of its own on the issue and address the menace of sports fraud and urgent need for regulation of sports betting.

KTS Tulsi agreed with Tharoor and added that he would also raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha and introduce a private member’s Bill similar to Tharoor’s.

The event also saw Amar Gahlot, Advocate – Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan attorneys and former IRS officer present a white paper highlighting the ‘Economic Impact of Regulation on Gambling and Betting’.

Summing up the event, AIGF CEO Roland Landers noted, “With the proliferation of sports leagues and the development of the sports ecosystem in India, it has become a major source of commerce and revenue for many entities, especially in the field of betting or gaming in connection with sporting events. Though each Indian state have their own Gaming Acts, what is ideally required is a central regulation.”

Gaming Legal & Regulatory

States free to decide on illegal betting websites, Delhi HC anti-betting PIL subjudice, says Minister

Union Minister for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled a reply to BJP MP Sudheer Gupta’s unstarred question in the Lok Sabha on whether the centre intends to ban online betting websites.

Responding to Gupta’s query, Prasad stated that “Betting and Gambling” are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to betting and gambling through their law enforcement machinery.

On the question of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court against online betting and poker websites filed by social activist Avinash Mehrotra, the Minister responded by stating that the matter was subjudice, with the Ministries of Information Technology and Finance and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) being respondents in the case.

Prasad did not give any specific response on what the central government’s stand will be in the matter, but the reply in parliament indicates that the centre has effectively left it to individual state governments’ to decide on how they wish to tackle the issue of online gambling and betting.


Eventus International announces third edition of SPiCE from 25-27 March 2020

After the successful culmination of the second edition of the Strategic Partnership for iGaming Conference & Exhibition (SPiCE) in Goa in February this year, Hong Kong-based events specialist, Eventus International has announced that the third edition of SPiCE will be held from 25th-27th March, 2020 at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa at Miramar near Panaji.

IndiaBet, one of the largest affiliate sites in India, has signed an agreement as strategic partner to support content creation and drive traffic in order to gather all the Indian affiliates under the same roof, creating major opportunities for operators to crack valuable deals on Day One (25 March).

The agenda will focus on networking and meetings amongst operators and key affiliates, digital marketing channels for local and international gaming operators, and trends in affiliate marketing.

Eventus has announced a SP”iCE” BREAKER drinks and registration pre-event on the evening of Day One (25 March) to welcome all delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and speakers.

The remaining two days of the event will focus on discussion and presentation on various issues relating to sports betting, esports, real money skill gaming (poker, rummy, fantasy sports) and the casino industry in India.

Like the previous editions, there will also be a special SPiCE It Up poker tournament onboard an offshore casino in Goa on the evening of Day Two (26th March).

Day Three of the conference will see an award ceremony being hosted to honour Indian companies that have excelled in various fields within the gaming industry. The award ceremony will be followed by a scintillating SPiCE after party to celebrate the successes of the last year.

Commenting on the announcement, Yudi Soetjiptadi, Managing Director of Eventus International, said, “It won’t be an exaggeration to say that SPiCE has become one of the most eagerly anticipated gaming events in the Indian subcontinent. We are happy and excited to present the third edition of SPiCE in March 2020.

This time, we are going to host a three-day event instead of a two-day one, with the first day focused on facilitating a discussion of affiliates and digital marketing companies with gaming operators, and the remaining two days to focus on challenges and opportunities in various verticals within the gaming industry. We have also added a lot of networking events and parties to allow all stakeholders to interact in a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

The feedback received from the two previous editions of the event has been overwhelmingly positive. We promise that SPiCE 2020 will be an event that will surpass all expectations and not to be easily forgotten by participating stakeholders.”

Read more about gaming and gambling events in India.


Man vs. technology – Which way will the cards fall for the Indian online gambling market?

A blast from the past to understand the value of casino & sports betting regulation

LeoVegas Casino & Sports is a Swedish online gambling operator founded in 2012. Now, seven years later they have finally opened the doors for Swedish players. Since the start LeoVegas main market have always been Sweden and in 2017 they spent $35 million in advertisement to attract Swedish customers.

So how does it come the doors have finally been opened for Swedish players?

LeoVegas has been operating in a legal grey zone up until the regulation of the Swedish gambling market the 1st of January 2019. They, together with 100 other Swedish casino operators, have made use of a legal glitch which allows casinos based outside of Sweden to target players inside the borders.

Prior to the regulation, all operators hosted their real money games from the gambling friendly island Malta. A tiny, progressive island which also is a member of The Commonwealth but have decided to take an open approach to online gambling, cryptocurrency, cannabis and Artificial Intelligence – compared to some other of its’ members.

Malta’s goal is to stand in the forefront for digital and technological debated topics. The island, which is a part of the European Union since 2003, quickly realized the value of attracting foreign investment. The benefits of taxing companies inside the country on gambling activities performed abroad became a gold mine. Taxation from online casinos and sportsbooks accounted for 12% of the GDP in 2018.

Now, when Sweden has regulated its own market, Malta can wave goodbye to their tax income on Swedish players.

How deceptive marketing methods are used for short wins

There is much India can learn from this. India is standing in front of either battling 1000’s years of betting culture, or follow a recipe which has successfully been working in many other countries.

We can already see clear traces of how modern technology is running in circles around the outdated betting laws. 

Indian Facebook users have over the past few months seen a sponsored Facebook article flooding the newsfeed. The article says the CEO of LeoVegas, Peter Newsted, was fired due to a loophole in a promotions terms & conditions.

This was something many Indian betting- and gambling-guide portals picked up. They debunked the fake news article and managed to prove there’s nobody at LeoVegas named Peter Newsted.

The sole reason behind the fake news article was to attract Indian casino players with a deceptive promotion by lying about the mistake.

LeoVegas accept Indian players at their website, but they are not actively doing any type of promotions towards India. If a player comes to their website, they are welcome, but there’s no pursuing of the customers as of today.

Since the Indian online gambling market is a “wild wild west” LeoVegas cannot take any legal rights towards the fake news articles.

If the market was regulated, the situation would have ended very differently.

It’s not only about the money

When you are regulating a market, it is not all about the tax money or controlling your partners marketing initiatives. No, the foremost purpose is supervising the health of the players. A regulated market is a safe and sustainable market for the online punters.

Sweden, who are known for their bullet-proof welfare system, did not go easy on responsible gambling and self-exclusion once the regulation went into force. All casino operators must obey by some of the strictest guidelines for responsible gambling. During the first week of regulation 10 000 players self-excluded themselves from a central system, so they will never be able to place bets again. Not on any form of online gambling site in Sweden. None. Never.

The other day the Swedish online casino Ninja lost its license to operate in Sweden, since they had not fulfilled the criteria for responsible gambling. A tough blow for a company which relies 95% of its revenue on the given market.

What can Indian online casinos & sports books learn from this?

Unfortunately, not too much, since the local operators are not invited to the party.

As of today there’s a long list of websites hosted abroad which accepts bets in INR, LeoVegas being one of them. The economical mathematics are easy to calculate, and it does not benefit the Indian tax system nor employment opportunities. All the bets are wagered and taxed outside of the borders.

Malta stands as a happy chap though.

However, this also means all valuable player data on behavior is stored abroad. Data which can be used to enhance the experience for the users. Lacking this valuable data means the Indian casino’s and sportsbooks will fall short on product knowledge, which will further push the market advantage for the international gambling operators.

What will happened within the legal field in India is still unclear. What is not unclear is the fact that international casinos will continue to pursue their economic dreams within our borders. What we will do about it is entirely up to us.

Disclaimer: This article is a sponsored post and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the authors of this website. Readers may treat this as an advertorial. 

Read more about online gambling in India.

Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Jaipur police arrests bookies facilitating bets through Betfair

The Jaipur crime branch has arrested two betting kingpins having links with the underworld and international betting syndicates for taking bets worth over Rs. 3,000 crores during the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), as per news reports.

Top bookies Ramesh Kumar Gangwal and Deepak Maheshwari were arrested by the crime branch after tracing their footprints online. The duo allegedly ran their betting network through international betting website Betfair and its skins.

Although the Betfair website cannot be be accessed through Indian IP addresses after the company took a decision in January this year to discontinue accepting bets from India, Gangwal and Maheshwari used virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the ban placed by Betfair.

According to the police, Gangwal is one of the top persons involved in the betting mafia in India and has links to the underworld in Dubai and Pakistan. Gangwal was allegedly in touch with a Punjab-based ‘super boss’ who used to provide lines and franchisees to other smaller bookies or agents to accept bets and retain a commission or share of profit based on the amounts bet.

To curb the menace of illegal gambling and betting, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2018 stating that several offshore betting websites, including Betfair, are illegally accepting players and deposits from India in contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act and other laws.

AIGF had urged the PM to block illegal gambling and betting websites that are not complying with Indian laws and urged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate the matter.

Read more on gambling laws in India.


Sri Lankan government partially rolls back $50 casino entry fee; announces ban on cricket betting outlets

The Sri Lankan government has clarified in parliament that the proposed US$50 entry fee on players wishing to play in casinos would only apply to local residents.

Last month, the country’s finance minister Mangala Samaraweera had announced a 5o dollar entry fee on guests wishing to play in casinos as well as drastic hikes in annual license fees from 200 million Sri Lankan rupees (around US$1.1 million) to 400 million Sri Lankan rupees (US$2.2 million). Samaraweera had also announced a 15% turnover tax on the revenues of the casinos, effective 1st April, 2019.

However the finance minister clarified yesterday that the $50 entry fee would only be applicable on local players and not on foreigners, as the objective of the proposed fee is to discourage local persons from gambling.

He further added that a framework for regulating gambling would be taken up soon by the current government as regulation of gambling was also a pre-requisite under the anti-money laundering laws of the nation.

Samaraweera also announced that cricket betting, which is operated by two private companies in the island nation would not be allowed in the future. He stated that this decision was taken after a request by current Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation and former Sri Lankan cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

Currently, cricket and horse race betting is operated in shops and kiosks in the country, although the position on legality of running these activities is not fully clear.


SiGMA successfully hosts gaming roadshow in Manila

SiGMA, a Malta-based affiliate and gaming events company hosted its first ever event in Manila, Philippines from 21st-22nd March, 2019. The event was the first leg of its global networking tour with subsequent events being planned in New Jersey, Nairobi and Lima later this year.

Hosted at the Shangri-La at the Fort hotel in Manila, the two-day event hosted conferences and presented a plethora of new opportunities for handshake deals in the fast-growing Asian market. The company in a press released noted that the event had opened doors to favourable business circumstances for European operators and suppliers looking to tap into the Asian market.

The event saw participation by over 400 premium Asian affiliates and operators that included FavBet, Hero Gaming, Glitnor Affiliates, Posh Friends, Royal Panda and Scout Gaming.

Eman Pulis, SiGMA’s founder and CEO, commented, “We came to Manila first of all to learn more about this vibrant city and the government’s initiatives through PAGCOR for the Asian region.  New friendships were born and strategic partnerships cemented in this vibrant region!”

Commenting on the success of the event, James Camilleri, Head of Sales and General Manager at Scout Gaming noted, “It was an excellent event, with insightful discussions on the Asian market and lots of networking opportunities. Definitely worth attending!”