Legalizing Online Gambling in India

india flag In August India’s first major official gambling organization was launched, with the All India Gaming Federation establishing roots in the city of Mumbai. The purpose of this organization is to further the understanding of gambling issues, research into the growing online and offline gambling markets and advise the government accordingly. And one of its first agendas has been to advise on the legalization of online gambling throughout India. They put forward an appeal to the prime minster that looked at the pros and cons of legalization and although we’re a little biased on the issue, it’s hard to argue against it. There are several points addressed by the All India Gaming Federation, and it’s those we will look at in this article.

A Safe Environment

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work” and law works in much the same way. There will never be a definitive solution, regardless of what the decision is, and that definitely comes into play here. However, it’s not about finding a definitive answer, it’s about finding the one that makes the most sense. One of the issues that the government has with the legalization of gambling is that it will create more addictions and social issues, while the casinos and sports books will bring disorder into towns and cities nationwide. But the truth is, that’s already happening. There are gambling dens the length and breadth of the country and because there is no regulation on account of them being illegal, they create more problems than a legal enterprise would. We can use alcohol prohibition as an example. Alcohol is illegal in many Indian states, because the risk of abuse and addiction is considered to be too high. That may be true, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and illegal alcohol is being distilled across India. Hundreds are dying from drinking this tainted alcohol and it’s becoming an epidemic that the government has little grasp on. There may not be many deaths from illegal gambling, but the money from illegitimate gambling is fed straight into the coffers of organized criminals, who are responsible for countless deaths and an inordinate amount of suffering nationwide. The Indian gambling market is worth $60 billion a year, most of which goes straight into organized crime. That’s a vast sum of money and it may explain why everything from drug trafficking to human trafficking and prostitution is on the rise. The All India Gaming Federation were a little less bleak with their argument, but the facts are there. There is also another, perhaps even more obvious benefit to legalizing gambling in this country. Because if you take that $60 billion out of the hands of the criminals, there’s only one place it will end up.

The Revenue

According to the All India Gaming Federation, the government’s actions are reckless at worst and careless at best. By imposing a tax on gambling, and by operating state-sponsored sports betting enterprises, they could generate billions of dollars every single month. A report on the matter, which was commissioned by the All India Gaming Federation, suggested that the gambling industry could generate nearly twice as much as the film industry, ten times as much as radio and nearly 20 times as much as the music industry. And this report only focused on sports betting, with the All India Gaming Federation suggesting that the growing professional cricket and football leagues would be cash cows for this industry. Such a blossoming industry would also lead to an increase in sports advertising and would give India more of a presence in the global sporting arena. And that’s before they consider the legalization of casino gambling and other forms of gambling. As things stand, lotteries are legal here, but even they have their restrictions. The All India Gaming Federation used the recent success of UK sport as an example, citing their unprecedented second spot in the Olympic medal table. Roland Landers, the CEO of All India Gaming Federation, argued that Britain’s relaxed gambling laws had a lot to do with their sporting dominance, citing their National Lottery as a big player in this, "The National Lottery gives a lump sum to UK Sport, which gives a proportion of it to regional sporting bodies and then specifically targets those Olympic and Paralympic events in which UK athletes have a sporting chance. They, then, choose the potential champions they will fund and pay for their coaching and in many cases give them grants to live on while they train.”

The Likely Result

It’s hard to see a result why the Indian government would turn down a potential role in a $400 billion global sports betting industry. But it’s equally hard to see why the United States would do it, and yet despite being home to the Gambling Capital of the World, as well as to cities like Reno and Atlantic City, they did just that. Going back to what we said at the outset of this article, modern law is about weighing up the pros and cons, it’s about trial and error, we just have to hope that the Indian government gives this one a trial and doesn’t make a costly error.