A landmark move by the Tamil Nadu government in India to shut down online gambling within the state is sparking fears of a massive uptick in illegal gambling operations in the state.
An ordinance was agreed upon by the Tamil Nadu Cabinet last week, and pending the governor’s approval, the new rule will roll out almost immediately. The new law comes into force despite recent rulings by the state’s High Court, which ruled any government intervention in banning skill-based gambling games unconstitutional.
In a written statement to the Supreme Court in India, the Tamil Nadu cabinet said: “The High Court lost sight of the fact that the impugned amendment Act, in pith and substance, qualifies as legislation on the subject of ‘betting’, which is a distinct area open for State legislation under the Constitution.”
It is suspected the government is borrowing through a loophole left open in the judgement by the High Court earlier in the year when it ruled there was nothing to prevent the state from enacting a new law to regulate games such as rummy in the future.
What Does the Ruling Mean for Gambling in the State?
There is an ongoing battle between online betting companies in Tamil Nadu and across the rest of India – a conservative country with widely held political scepticism about the benefits of gambling.
However, evidence suggests prohibition is simply driving more players into the arms of illegal bookmakers. Rather than protecting them, the law exposes bettors to dangerous areas of the black market, leaving investments in the cross hairs of scam artists and problem gamblers at the beckoning of loan sharks.
A research paper from industry analysts ENV Media, titled Sports Betting: India’s Favorite Invisible Giant, highlights the dangers faced by ordinary citizens attempting to engage in fun, friendly, and safe betting.
– Unregulated money flows.
– Parallel black markets mean a loss of revenue for the government and potential businesses.
– Problem gambling.
– Tax revenue losses impact the lack of education and awareness programs and any kind of gambler support.
– Because of no regulatory restrictions, financial implications also translate into no protection for bettors.
– Corruption in sports nourishes the existence of facilitators such as bookies.
What Would Regulation Bring to Local Regions in India?
For many outsiders looking in, it seems bizarre for the regional government to ignore the raft of benefits that would arise from legalizing gambling in India.
The taxation income alone from government-regulated agencies would help society combat the risk posed by problem gambling while eradicating the ill-desirable endemic elements in the underground betting culture, such as black market bookmakers.
ENV Media believe there is hope for the Indian government to acknowledge the advantages of online cricket betting for Indian players and other. They surmise their research by writing:
“When and if the Central Government of India realizes that there are consistent voter bases that would readily support sports betting and online gaming regulations, we might expect changes in the legal scene, probably rather swift ones as well. As things stand, catering for the conservative share of the population requires a careful approach and no outward liberalization of the betting market.”
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