High court threatens to close online lotteries if Maharashtra continues to snub lawsuit

High court threatens to close online lotteries if Maharashtra continues to snub lawsuit

Maharashtra’s continued refusal to respond to a lawsuit could cost the Indian state its precious online lotteries.

HC threatens to close Maharashtra’s lotteriesLast week, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court warned the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit answering a public interest litigation (PIL) filed against the state within two weeks—or risk having all its online lotteries shut down, Times of India reported.

The PIL was filed by a Chandan Trivedi, who asked the high court to immediately ban the “unauthorized and alluring” online lotteries in the state.

In his petition, Trivedi claimed that there are more than 1,300 “bogus online lotteries” promoted by other states within Maharashtra, despite the government permitting only 13 lotteries to operate in the state. According to the PIL, the online lotteries—in which results were announced every 15 minutes on a single-digit—were under different names and the operators were able to secure permission not from Maharashtra, but from states like Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Meghalaya.

The unauthorized operators are causing Maharashtra’s state exchequer to loss INR933 crore (USD139.44 million), according to the lawsuit.

Trivedi said despite state finance minister Sudhit Mungantiwar’s promise to seek a legal opinion on banning online lottery companies of other states in Maharashtra, “nobody paid any heed and millions of people continue to get addicted to it.”

This isn’t the first time that online lotteries in Maharashtra has been dragged under controversy. In June, local media outlets came out with reports of a “massive online lottery scam” that they claimed was swept under a rug in 2008.

Seventeen states in India have either banned lottery games or restricted the business within their local borders. In Kerala, only state lottery is allowed, and its proceeds are used for social sectors. The Kerala government doesn’t allow other states’ lottery operations on its territory, which states such as Sikkim, Meghalaya and Nagaland challenged.