Gambling is not a concept that has been introduced in recent times even it is an age older concept from the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata for example in Mahabharata, Pandavas lost their kingdom and wife in betting. Betting is defined as an act of gambling money for an unpredictable or uncertain event. Today different forms of betting can be seen like land betting, sports betting, etc. It is prevalent everywhere whether it’s a house or it is in sports.
Analysis of Law related to Betting in cricket
India continues to follow the Public Gambling Act, 1867 (PGA) an orthodox approach against legalizing betting, introduced by Britishers150 years ago even they themselves legalize not only gambling but also online gambling by changing its laws as per modern times. Though after independence we have left on to states to make laws on gambling and betting as per 7th schedule entry 34 lists III. But most of the states continue to follow PGA except some states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka which have their own different laws. Goa and Sikkim have legalized gambling but cricket betting is still not recognized in Goa. Sikkim is the first state which has legalized even online sports betting including cricket. States like Telangana and Assam which have totally banned gambling can’t do so because not allowing betting in the game of skill will lead to violation of the fundamental right of the profession as per article 19(1) of the constitution. Hundreds of cases that came every day regarding the legalization of betting or gambling in India are registered before courts. So, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in BCCI v. Cricket Association of Bihar and others formed a law commission that will analyze and deal with this issue. The Law commission thus recommended that betting should be legalized by law.
In K.R Lakshmana v. the State of Tamil Nadu court took the effort and explain the concept of the game of chance and what is game of skill is and held that the game of skill can be legalized only. A game of chance is which is merely determined on basis of luck whereas, in a game of skill one with superior knowledge, experience and training have higher chances of winning. So now the question arises whether cricket is a game of chance or a game of skill. District court in Delhi interestingly explained cricket as a game of skill and thus legal and is exempted under Section 12 of PGA,1867. But this finding is yet to be considered by various High courts and Supreme Court.
To solve issues regarding gambling, The Lodha committee was formed which suggested legalizing online sports betting as it will curb black money, increase tax revenue, and will help in checking illegal practices in sports through careful implementation of laws. Chapter IX of this committee also differentiates between match-fixing and sports betting and considers the former as an illegal act not the latter. Unfortunately, Goa and Sikkim which have allowed gambling to a great extent have barred locals from participating in them, they just allowed for tourist attraction despite many advantages stated by the Lodha committee. Even after all such happening India does not legalize cricket betting.
In countries like Australia, sports betting is legally subjected to license as per the Interactive Gambling bill,2001 but online in-play gambling activities are still illegal. In the United Kingdom, the Gambling Act, 2005 has classified gambling as legal and illegal. Gambling is allowed as long as children and vulnerable groups are not included and it is conducted fairly. Betting in cricket is valid in South Africa as per the National Gambling Act, 2004 but for some listed games with a proper license. At the international level three types of views for gambling can be witnessed:
- It is a sin and the public should be protected like in the case of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Malaysia.
- It is a means of generating income and employment for countries like Curacao, Gibraltar.
- Some countries Italy, France, UK though have introduced laws but left it to people to choose or not.
Some countries have complete restrictions on cricket gambling as well as advertisement activities like in the case of Norway and UAE. Norway has the strictest laws in Europe and even also restricts the citizens to participate in online gambling at various websites around the world. While some other countries like France and Portugal in which certain types of gambling is allowed only at a certain definite place under state control only. But leaving some nations almost all others have legalized gambling under state control. For example, In Canada no separate central law is there which deals with gambling, it depends on provinces or territory. Though the Canadian Penal code governs illegal gambling (don’t have a license) and liabilities related to that. In Spain, the Gaming Act, 2011 is there which controls gambling but it mainly focuses on harmonizing online gambling and left regulation of offline gambling to regional levels. Australia which has the world’s highest gambling rate has different laws at central and territorial levels. It also has the Interactive Gambling Act, 2001 which regulated online gambling. One of the most interesting facts is that it did not tax players for winning income but only gamble operators are taxed. Both Italy and Austria have legalized cricket betting too under strict licensing conditions. Even Austria has allowed citizens and blocked the involvement of international organizations.
Conclusion and suggestions
Betting is still continued in India though illegally so it is better to legalize it with some restrictions as it will generate tax revenue and employment opportunities within the sphere of cricket as evident from Goa and Sikkim which can derive much benefit from it. As far as the problem regarding exploitation and risk is concerned a method can be prescribed about the amount and way to recover the debt. Thus at last it can be concluded that there is a need for some change like the Public Gambling Act, 1876 should be amended or replaced with a new act to include online gambling, age limit should be set to avoid younger generation and proper definition should be given so that there is no ambiguity regarding what is legal and illegal whether is public mind or in courts.
Author(s) Name: Khushi Jain (BVP New Law College, Pune)