Following a cross-party initiative in the Lok Sabha, where a group of 13 MPs signed a written question to the MIB asking what the central government is doing to reduce the risk of illegal betting, Priyesh Mishra, a practicing lawyer in New Delhi and a former content writer at the National Social Entrepreneurship Forum, urges action against foreign-based online gambling and betting arguing that it can solve all related problems.
Mishra points out that the only game and offline or online betting in india is limited to a few states like Goa, Nagaland, Sikkim and Meghalaya. Operators wishing to offer such services in these states must obtain a license and comply with strict regulations, and their activities cannot cross the borders of the corresponding state.
On the other hand, many online gambling and betting platforms based outside India can operate freely across the country without being subject to any rules, restrictions or regulations.
The Union Constitution granted the power to legislate on gambling and betting to the states, but their legislative power has no extraterritorial action, i.e. laws passed by the states cannot affect individuals and entities outside the country. In this way, India’s state-centric arrangement of who and how controls gambling is outdated and inadequate in the age of the internet.
According to Priyesh Mishra, it is exactly offshore gambling and betting websites that expose Indian users to a variety of risks such as financial problems, unemployment, higher mortality, gambling addiction, underage gambling or fraud or scams.
With “the absence of a regulatory framework” or “any regulatory oversight,” Mishra writes, people with criminal intent can easily access the Indian online space where they can deploy their scams and schemes. Websites are also free to offer gambling services to underage citizens, who are more vulnerable, exposing them to “illegal and harmful activity that can lead to delinquency, criminal behavior, depression and even suicide”. .
Mishra also points out that gambling addictions have been recognized as a behavioral disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO). “Its features include impaired control over gambling behavior, increasing priority given to gambling over other life interests and daily activities; and continuation or escalation of gambling behavior despite negative consequences. Even if only a small portion of players develop an addiction, their whole family suffers, he says.
It is due to the proliferation of offshore gambling and betting sites that Indian skill gaming platforms have been banned in many states despite various court rulings upholding their legitimacy, argues Mishra and proposes “systematic punitive action “against these platforms. Suggested actions include denying access to known offenders and developing a centralized reporting framework.
Will limiting offshore activity solve the problem?
The gambling and betting risks Lawyer Mishra speaks of are real and serious enough to require centralized action, as states are not equipped to tackle the problem. Nevertheless, while he mentions the real problem of “lack of a regulatory framework”, Mishra maintains a one-sided view against offshore websites and argues that curbing their activities, instead of implementing rules to all real money gambling in india, is the necessary solution.
Real money gambling, whether skill-based or chance-based, carries all the dangers mentioned by Mishra, including the risks of financial ruin, addiction, misleading minors, or being offered by fraudsters. For this reason, the need of the hour is to have rules, including responsible gambling requirements, age verification protocols, spending limits, restrictions on credit games, advertising guidelines , anti-money laundering measures, and many more.
A strong regulatory framework can not only ensure a safe gambling environment for Indians and a conducive business climate for local operators, but it can also enable eligible offshore platforms to obtain a license and start operating and paying fees. taxes in India. Then the government can block access to all Indian and foreign sites that do not comply with the law, ensuring that players only use safe products.
What is the current state of the Indian online betting market?
If we look at the current state of things, we see that young sports fans dominate the betting market in india leading to the spread of new game genres and new ways of gambling, as well as a decrease in black market and hawala operations and a general positive change in public perception towards betting.
The size of the Indian sports betting market is estimated to be around $150 billion (about ₹10 lakh crore) with the participation of 40 crore punters. Most of this market is cash or hawala, taking place offline and illegally.
On the other hand, aggregate sports betting traffic data on the activity of 70,000 Indian users on a gaming platform shows that the youngest age group of 18-24 is responsible for 41, 7% of all visits. Combined with the next age group between 25 and 34, young Indians generate a total of 72.6 percent of all traffic.
The youngest group coincides with Generation Z or “digital natives”, who take the only betting option online, and the one that allows betting on all the sports stars or all the events around the world. Their thirst for sports coverage often takes them beyond real-life sports to bet on fantasy sports, esports and simulated virtual leagues, and they relish the addition of augmented reality and other technologies to their gaming experience. .
Fantasy sports have been officially recognized as skill-based in India, and the ability to bet legitimately on the performance of favorite athletes and teams has gone a long way in changing the outlook on these activities. Many users see a direct connection between the skillful nature of the sport itself and the ability to use one’s vast sporting knowledge to one’s advantage.
All of this makes the legalization and regulation of gambling and betting a much more sensible option than bans, as a means of ensuring economic progress and a safe gambling environment while curbing the black market.
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