NEW DELHI: The panel studied the practices in many countries before preparing its report. While recommending that the businesses should be licensed, the commission wants match-fixing and sports fraud to be made criminal offences.
Betting or gambling in India is a state subject though they are loosely governed by an archaic national law, the Public Gambling Act of 1867. Most Indian states don’t allow gambling or betting, including lotteries. According to the law, games of chance or luck are prohibited but games of skill in which bettors have a thorough knowledge of the sport at the time of placing a bet, have no restriction.
This distinction means horse racing is the only sport in India in which betting is legal as it is considered a game of skill. That also means betting in all other sports, mostly cricket, has thrived behind a veil of secrecy.
Sources said the commission is likely to suggest to the government that “games of skill” and “games of luck” should be more sharply defined.
Since Parliament has the exclusive power to legislate on the subject of gambling and betting, the law panel feels it should enact a model law to regulate these activities. In one of the suggestions to “strictly regulate” these activities, the panel wants a cap on the number of times an individual can gamble and/or bet in a specific period, that is monthly, half-yearly or yearly.
The commission wants a ban on children from gambling and betting. It has suggested that gambling be categorized as “proper gambling” and “small gambling,” depending on the stakes involved, sources said, adding, “Proper gambling” would involve high stakes and would be feasible only for the rich. Poorer groups would be permitted “small gambling” with small stakes.
The commission wants the businesses of bookies and punters to be taxed under all relevant laws such as Income Tax Act and Goods and Services Tax Act. For legalisation of these activities, the panel feels “suitable amendments” need to be made in Foreign Exchange Regulations and FDI policy.
“Permitting FDI in this industry may bring considerable investment in states that decide to permit casinos and propel growth of the tourism and hospitality industries. Consequently, this may assist states in creation of employment opportunities,” the report said.