Gambling and other forms of betting are the common thorough out the world. In India, people bet on animal fights on the street, cock fights, playing card games. Over a period of time, the people have started betting on the cricket and other national sports. With several crores of money being transacted illegally and the government’s failure to end the menace, there is a wide spread comment about the need to create a robust regulatory framework for legalizing gambling. Will legalizing gambling end the menace ?
The reasons to look at legalising and regulating gambling are several. First, gambling is already operating in a spread out and operating in a huge way. Despite devoting several legal measure andc covert actions, legal enforcement authorities are not able to curb it. Gambling and betting is mostly done very secretly and which is handled in a delicate manner. It is mostly headed underworld and strong syndicates who use the unaccounted money earned from gambling activities for nefarious activities. These activities could include terror financing. So legalising the activity will not only help curtail an important source of black money and stop funds flowing to terror agencies.
Estimates about the size of the gambling market in India vary according to various private and government agencies. According to KPMG report, the size could be around $ 50- $60 billion, while other, more recent, studies from financial institution peg the value even to higher numbers. Even a normal estimate suggests with just 15 per cent GST, the government could earn tens of thousands of crores by legalising sports betting. If online gambling and casinos are also permitted in a strong restrictive way, the estimated tax revenue very huge to both state and central government. These can be used to fund health and other constructive projects of the government.
Apart from revenue generation, legalizing the gambling will surely create huge employment. Globally, wherever gambling is regulated, it has created a massive opportunity for employment generation. In India it could create direct and indirect jobs for around 25-40 lakh. How ? U.S. employs over 2.5 lakh people in the gambling industry, while over 1 lakh individuals are employed in the U.K.
Integrity is a core component in any activity, but in sports and games is crucial to its success. It serves the basis for the enjoyment of participants and spectators. But if the gambling and betting are legalized, integrity and honesty will be under great threat. Match fixing and spot fixing would drastically increase. Athletes and players will be tempted. Psychologically, players attracted to gambling naturally because of their competitive nature, media success, money and self-assured sense of entitlement.
If betting were to be legalised, this lower class of the country will affect. Betting attracts the common man to try their luck and tempts them to play with money. It is very tough to imagine the consequences of a poor person losing his hard-earned money or his life saving on betting. Law commission report on legalizing gambling
India’s Law Commission has submitted a recommendation to government that sports betting and gambling be legalized and regulated. In a report titled Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India, which was submitted to law minister, the Law Commission said that shutting down illegal gambling and enforcing a ban on sports betting had failed to produce the desired results, leading instead to an increase in illegal gambling and black money circulation. “Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option,” the report said.
Among the recommendations is for a law to be enacted for the regulation of gambling that can then be adopted by India’s various states. The report also recommends that gambling services should be offered only by licensed Indian operators who would be granted licenses by the regulatory authority and that gamblers should have the number or size of bets capped within a given time period. “The nature of stakes should be restricted to money with a linkage to PAN card and Aadhar card and the betting amount should be prescribed by law, having an upper limit on the amount one can legally stake in a gamble, which may be on the basis of the deposit, winnings or losses,” the report said. It was also suggested that gambling be classified into two distinct categories – “proper gambling” and “small gambling” – with “proper gambling” referring to high stakes play. In a submission to the Law Commission’s report, local gaming industry body the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) said it had recommended a regulatory regime that would allow authorities to supervise the sports betting market.
There is an overwhelming support backed by the law commission report for the idea to legalize gambling. Some of the important points put forward are the failure to control illegal betting (large scale), government losing a huge revenue-earning opportunity, employment generation. So the only recourse left is to legalise, regulate and tax which can lead to huge income. Those these opinions have strong points, but it is no guarantee that legalising betting will generate revenue as projected, How ? Did the strong economic steps like demonetisation and giving more power to tax authorities have made a huge impact on the revenue inflow or curbed black money ? Legalizing gambling would also lead to demands for legal frame work other nefarious activities like prostitution, drugs etc. So the government has to weigh the pros and cons before indulging the act of legalizing gambling, which can lead to a complex impact on the society.