June 5, 2011 : Only one province permits the pastime
The Indian jurist Justice Mukul Mudgal examined the online gambling phenomenon in his book ‘Law and Sports in India’ reviewed at www.lexisnexis.com this month, observing that only the province of Sikkim has legalization specifically permitting online gambling, although there are few statutes that explicitly prohibit it elsewhere.
The jurist defines two types of online gambling: casino style gaming and lotteries, which are typically based on chance; and betting, particularly in sports, where events take place in real time and can be verified independently.
Betting on sports is generally prohibited in India, and the legal expert opines that it remains to be seen whether the national government will take steps to regulate sports betting on websites registered outside India, in those countries where gambling and betting are legal.
To curb online gambling, the Indian authorities usually rely on the Information Technology Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Section 67 in the former specifies penalties for publishing or transmitting in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons. Justice Mudgal argues that this section would not govern sports betting since horse racing has expressly been recognised in many states as an activity of skill.
The other legislative is Rule 3 of the Foreign Exchange Management (current account transactions) Rules, 2000, which prohibits transactions such as remittances out of lottery winnings, and sweepstakes. Even betting on cricket and hockey would fall under the Rule’s purview and persons would not, therefore, be able to play on these websites without contravening the provisions, cautions the jurist.