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This article is written by Pari Khurana from Ansal University, Gurgaon. This is an exhaustive article which merely deals with the laws and regulations and the basic criteria behind the online casino.

Introduction

A casino is a provision that is enacted for numerous types of gambling activities.Casinos are normally built or combined with certain hotels, resorts, cruise ships etc. Some casinos are also known for hosting live entertainment such as stand-up comedy, concerts etc. Gambling is one of the most confined practices in India except for a few categories falling into horse riding and lotteries. Exegete of gambling asserts that it further shepherds to crime, corruption or money laundering, while the adherents of regulated gambling stated that it would be a huge source of revenue for the state wherein, casinos in Goa have contributed a heavy amount to the state revenue in 2013. Under the Constitution of India, the Indian state has been encumbered with the power to frame the state-specific laws for betting and gambling. The Public Gambling Act, 1857 has been adopted by certain states of India. The other states in India have validated their own legislations to prohibit the gambling activities under these Acts specifically.

Most of these gaming enactments were enacted prior to the appearance of virtual or online gambling and therefore refers to the gambling activities taking place in the physical appearances defined as “gaming or common houses”. As it is well observed that gambling has stepped its foot everywhere in India culturally and historically ever-present, and largely all underground and untaxed. Daily examples may range from card games, animal fights, to national and international cricket matches. Online gambling, cricket matches, and casino gaming fall under this category as they are not crystal-clearly regulated and legal. For the general trend, our legal system is more interested in catching the culprits who gamble physically. In Europe, nearly every country changed its laws in the latter half of the 20th Century to permit casinos. In the United Kingdom, licensed gambling clubs, mainly in London, have intervened since 1960. The casino is also regulated by the government of France, which legalized them in 1933.

Online casino in India

It should come with no surprise that the legal status for online gambling is also imprecise as the ordinance fails to provide any clarity. It is in its early stages in India. The stages that do permit gambling substantially centralize regulation on a land-based casino. However, it is reported that the Government of India has an internet censoring system in place in order to filter and block foreign-based gaming sites. It is undisclosed which determined platform they target. Sikkim has arranged to offer three online gambling licenses as far as 2010. They adjourn the procedure despite the tremendous interest from the operators. Sikkim besides sanctioning an online lottery, which takes bets from people throughout India. Due to the lack of legal national online casinos, Indian gaming freak has tremendously huddled with gambling sites that are hosted in other countries.

Most foreign-based effective casinos accept players from India, while some of them even offer gameplay in Indian rupees. Even though technically unlawful, it emerged that Indian gamblers can freely enjoy their beloved games on the internet. There are no reports on whether players of overseas Indian casinos are accused. Maharashtra is one-state with proper laws associating it to online gambling. In 2014, the Sikkim state government issued its first licence in the online gambling operator. Future gaming solutions will now be able to legally propound the original money online betting and gaming services within the state. That is why we see online sites like Adda52 and other legal poker and rummy sites running in Sikkim.

Legal framework

Gambling has been interdicted since 1867 under The Public Gaming Act 1867, but the punishments are modest such as 200 rupees or moderate and 1-3 months of imprisonment. This is because Indians have a great love affair with both cricket and horse racing. Nevertheless, horse racing betting is the only legal form of betting, which is a witness to the antithetical situation with regard to gambling in India. As a matter of fact, lottery games are one of the few legal forms of gambling. Considering the fact that playing the lottery doesn’t require any specialised skills, it’s just a striking form of gambling which is legal.

The main insinuation of dereliction is based on the distinction between “games of skills” vs “games of chance”. Current gambling laws already permit inconsistency for so-called “skill centric gambling”. This has to be an important phenomenon for the lawmaking body as they themselves recommend that other skill centric games should be granted similar exoneration.

Also, The Information Technology Act, 2000 regulates cyber activity in India and exhibits publication or regulation of information which can easily corrupt people. However, there is no stipulation as such that speaks about online gambling easily.

This includes online gambling and the punishment for such wrongful acts is much more perilous than for the offline gambling operation i.e punishment for 5 years. As in Maharashtra, it is a legal offence under Bombay Wager Act, 1887.

The IT Act of 2000

The IT Act 2000 made several amenities for several types of offences interlinked to online activity, although there’s no general mention of online gambling being illegal. As it does give the authority to the Indian government to block several foreign websites but the government has utilised this power to instruct Internet Service Provider providers to prevent Indian residents from ingressing several foreign bettings and gaming sites, but this is not sure that how effective this has been or which of the sites have been blocked throughout.

Most of the time, it is the promoter itself that blocks the website in India. So far, there are numerous types of online casinos who are offering online gambling services to Indian people. They can ingress rather easily and you play any game of their choice. 

There is no such law which is applied mainly if you’re betting at online websites based outside India. As well as no law explicitly makes online betting and gambling as an illegal activity. It means that the people can easily bet on the online casino platforms, without running the risk of getting caught.

Gambling laws and directive principles

International internet gambling law is a subject of massive entanglement because every nation has different points and opinions related to different subject matters. While some parts of the world enclasp online gambling others do everything they can do to ban it entirely. Leaving a part of that, different jurisdiction within a single nation can sometimes take fundamentally different approaches to internet gaming.

The United States is a great example of how complex gambling law can be within a single nation, not only are the federal laws poorly written and difficult to recognise, but individual states have their own laws on this subject as well. In some states, online gambling is legal and accepted by everyone. In other words, the authorities are still trying their level best to grasp the assets of legitimate gambling sites.

Online gambling legislation and ordinance 

Gambling is a very remunerative industry but the legislation varies from country to country. As different countries have their different perception of gambling in different cultures, which goes from a restoration activity to an illegal act.

Gambling in Europe

Europe, as a whole, is pretty easy to toss some bets, as most forms of gambling here are legal and regulated. There is no specific-sector European Union legislation on gambling so the member countries are free to choose the authorization relating to the opening of the markets. It has many countries with different opinions on the legality of online gambling. Here, the biggest markets are the UK, Germany etc, all which have a legally bounded gambling system whether it is land-based casinos or online betting.

Some of them have legalised all sorts of gambling. They are Austria, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Romania etc. Living in such countries will allow people to enjoy online betting or the land-based casino the way they feel like without any prohibition.

In Europe, Turkey is the only place where there are strict rules and regulations related to gambling as they aren’t fond of gambling in the slightest.

Gambling in Germany

Online gambling is generally outlawed in Germany. Germany is basically one of those places where it’s definitely illegal, but the legality of just placing online bets is still unclear. A certain elucidation of German law could classify the act of placing a bet online as illegal, but the authorities appear to have no interest in enforcing the law in such a manner.

The exploitation of gambling requires authorization. The penal court reserves the organisation of lottery and games of chance to the authority.

Gambling in Australia

Australia is the country with the most intense gamblers. They are allowed to offer some of the gambling practices to Australian members. However, in order to govern, certain new laws were adopted in 2017 which severely restricted the access of online casinos to the country. In New Zealand, unlike other regions, there is clear and precise legislation relating to online gambling. 

Gambling in Asia

Last but not the least, there is a bit about the Asian market. Well, it is a clear fact that Asia as a whole is very complicated to understand. Some of the continents and regions are simple and easy but somewhere Asia tends to have drastically separate laws from region to region. As an example, Singapore used to be completely fine with any form of gambling up until 2014. As in the other example, Japan has a very anti-gambling system where the citizens have to be very careful mainly towards the legal loopholes and for creating different schemes for gamble. As with the lapse of time the country has now been softened with its members and allowing the people for gambling and land-based casinos as well. Taiwan has not legally bounded with the gambling system, as everything is prohibited strictly.

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The legal position in India

Online gaming or gambling is strictly prohibited in India and any act which is deliberate to aid or facilitate the same. For online casinos and gambling, different states have different rules and regulations in order to tackle them. It is under such an act which may be permitted in one state may be an offence in another. The Public Gambling Act, 1867 is the central enactment which has been adopted by many states of India like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh etc. However, other states have implemented their own legislation to regulate online gambling practices adopted by the people within their territory. State legislation has been implemented before the emergence of online gambling in India. Sikkim and Nagaland are the only States who have introduced regulations pertaining to online gaming.

It is found that except the States of Orissa and Assam, most of the States have also excluded “games of skill” from pertinency of its particular gaming laws. As playing ‘Poker’ is permitted under the law of West Bengal, Nagaland, Sikkim but being licensed by the state authorities. Especially in Goa, gambling is permitted only in Government operated places as casinos.

The issue of online gambling in Indian laws is that they still remain leftover which is yet to be adjudicated by courts of India. Necessary inferences can be drawn from orders passed by the Court while deciding the issues of a particular game.

Game of Skill v. Game of Chance

There has been a significant discussion by Supreme Court and High Court on what constitutes a ‘game of skill’ and a ‘game of chance’, and thereby what is actually instanced from the judgment is that a game where there is a prevalence of skills over chance is a ‘game of skill.

Case- State of A.P v. K. Satyanarayana,1968 

The judgement of the Case- that the game of Rummy to be a ‘game of skills’. Moreover, the Court in its judgement has indicated that if there is the practice of gambling performed by the various gambling houses and are making a profit out of the game of rummy, then it could amount to an offence under the laws of AP.

Case- M.J. Sivani v. State of Karnataka, 1995

The judgement of the Case- In this it was relied upon by the Supreme Court that the three-card game which goes under different names such as flush, brag etc. is a game of pure chance.

Case- Gaussian Network Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Monica Lakhanpal (2012)

Facts- In this case, it was discussed that the issue of online gaming and gambling within the members of India and the issue was put before the court under Order 36 Rule (1) of Civil Procedure Court (CPC). The Court held the following- 

  • Game of skills, if played with stakes does not, therefore, amount to gambling.
  • Playing games of skills for money is only legal in the real form.
  • Online games cannot be compared to real games.

Lottery in India

The lotteries which are an entire game of chance are permitted in many states, in spite of the fact strictly regulated and looked upon by the law and courts as a pernicious foul. In reference to the Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998, which is the lottery law in India states may collocate, stimulate the lottery subject to prescribed conditions.

Online Lottery in India

Different states have cited their different rules and regulations for the Online lottery system in India. The state of Maharashtra had strictly banned the method of the online lottery so far, wherein the government of Punjab has clearly stated that they intend to start the online lottery scheme with the main aim of generating ₹150 crores through the sales of online lottery tickets.

Case- Kerala Online Lottery Dealers Association v. The State of Kerala (2015)

Judgement- Observation by the Supreme Court was held in this case in which selective banning by the State of Kerala was the main subject of dispute, as it did not mainly discourage the government of Punjab.

In the Kerala case, the Supreme Court held that it was constitutionally valid to discriminate between online paper lotteries as two different classes of lotteries in terms of Lotteries (Regulation) Act and also, a State government may ban online lotteries despite the fact that it may be conducting paper lottery scheme. The Supreme Court made the further observation as in fact to relate a state does not itself conduct a particular class of lotteries, it may ban within its territory that class of lotteries conducted by other states.

Technical Issues

As the Indian Constitution has clearly defined and elaborated on the term gambling. In order to change certain issues, the government has to largely focus on certain articles in the Constitution, and that is rarely going to happen. So the legal base will remain the same. As the government has got more serious issues and facts to be looked upon. As the present legal system in India is quite hypocritical. Horse racing betting is one of the legal courses, and betting parlour exists in many parts of the country. The only basic reason that it is legal is because of the assumption that the specific skills are required to know and pick a winning horse and jockey.

Social Issues

The uptake of gambling depends on several factors. However, Internet gambling is provided by a network of networks globally around the boundaries without any discreteness. As it spreads in a worldwide nation so the people can gamble any time anywhere when they feel so. The rise of Internet gambling will provide both marketing opportunity and marketing threats. Many people set up their own Internet gambling sites because the initial set-up costs will be minimal in comparison to a casino. This will lead to the implications for the social impact of Internet gambling. Such as-

  • Protection of the vulnerable- There are many groups of vulnerable individuals who are in offline gambling would be prevented from gambling by responsible members of the gambling authorities. As it is a serious matter of concern that both regulatory authority and internet gambling service providers will have to take on board.
  • Internet gambling in the workplace- Internet gambling is one of the new opportunities for gamblers, particularly in the workplace. It is the solidarity activity that can happen without the knowledge of both management and the employee co-worker. 

Conclusion

Technology has played one of the major roles in the development of gambling practices and will continue to do so. It can be argued that games that offer fast, arousing gameplay, frequent wins and the opportunity for rapid replay are the main problems associated with the gambling. Addiction is essentially for the rewards and the speed of rewards. Therefore, the more potential rewards are, the more engagement of people will be. As there is no precise frequency level of a gambling game at which people become addicted since the direction will be the mix of the factors.


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