India’s Supreme Court has decided to consider the nuts and bolts of loosening the country’s longstanding prohibition on sports betting.
On Friday, the Times of India reported that a bench of Supreme Court Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar had agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding possible updates to the Public Gaming Act of 1867 to allow for the possibility of legal sports betting.
The Court reportedly intends to incorporate the betting question into a separate pending case on cricket reforms that followed the 2013 India Premier League fixing scandal. Last July, the Court directed India’s central government to consider legalizing sports betting as a means of detecting match- and spot-fixing and thus preserving sports integrity.
There’s a growing push within India’s legal community to modernize the country’s gambling rules. Last month, Balbir Singh Chauhan, a retired justice and current chairman of the Law Commission, told a seminar that the Commission’s preliminary investigation of the impact of legal betting suggested it was better for the government “to regulate the activity, not seek to stop it completely.”
The Commission has yet to file its full report on the legal betting question, but Chauhan offered more hints on its contents last week in an interview with Outlook magazine. Chauhan noted that, like most activities, gambling carried the potential for abuse but gambling also “generates both revenue and employment.”
Chauhan pointed out that gambling decisions have traditionally been left to India’s individual states, and the central government “is not competent to enact a law on [gambling] unless two or more states request it to do so.”
Some Indian states have chosen to approve limited gambling options within their borders, mostly involving lotteries and horseracing, while Goa and Sikkim can claim to be India’s only currently active casino gaming regions. Daman has also passed casino legislation but hasn’t yet approved Delta Corp launching gaming operations at its Deltin-branded hotel in the union territory.
Last summer, Sikkim launched the nation’s first ‘online’ sports betting business, although this referred only to intranet gaming terminals run by Golden Gaming International on which punters could wager on horseracing, cricket, tennis and football.