Gambling has been a clandestine but notorious sport in our Indian Society. Recently a report has been published related to this. The Law Commission of India, an apex body for legal reforms, led by Justice B. B. Chauhan, has submitted a report to the government, saying that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option left is to regulate gambling as a sport.
In its 276th report, the Commission has recommended legislation of regulated betting and gambling activities in cricket while asserting that a complete ban will not return the desired results. The Commission cited the example from the Great Indian Epic, “Mahabharat” that had gambling been regulated at that time, Yudhishtir could not have staked his wife and brothers in a gamble.
An estimate by the Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security pegged the illegal betting market in India ad about ₹10 lakh crore annually; the Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) envisaged that an amount of ₹19,000 crore revenue could be generated from legal betting by which the government can fill its coffers. That money can be used for the welfare purposes, thereby curbing the illegal or unlawful gambling.
The Commission has suggested that it should have a cashless digital transaction so that it can help monitor the cash flow, and encourage white money. Further, tax can be collected under the Income Tax Act of 1961 and the Goods and Services Tax Act of 2017. The stakeholders of gambling should have an account linked with their AADHAAR and PAN cards so that the government can keep an eye on them. A classification between a “proper gambling” for rich people and “small gambling” for people from lower economic groups could be made. The panel also acknowledge the merit of introducing a cap on the number of transactions for each individual by the government and protecting the vulnerable (minors and economically weaker sections of society) from the exploitation of gambling and other things.
At present, legal betting is permitted only in horse races and sale of lottery tickets which is taxed at 28%. Mizoram siphoned around ₹12 crore in 2014-15 from the sale of lottery tickets. Likewise Kerala collected ₹908 crores as GST and ₹1,690 crores as state revenue from lottery sales. Moreover, there are casinos operating in Goa, Daman and Sikkim.
There are many nations in the world where all forms of gambling are legalised—UK, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, and some states of USA. These are the nations with high ranks in the Human Development Report. Now, it is high time for India to make gambling legal by casting off the social stigma perpetrated about it. It will help by increasing the government’s revenue, by curbing ‘fixing’ in sports, and even opening dynamics of employment in the subcontinent.