There is a growing demand for legalising betting through online and offline modes in the country. Jay Sayta, a lawyer and founder at Glaws.in, the country’s first online platform dealing with the gambling news all over the country, spoke to this correspondent on a wide range of issues pertaining to online betting . Following are excerpts from the interview.
Q. How offline and online gambling can actually dominate the gaming industry in the coming years?
A. Online and offline gambling form a major portion of the gaming industry. Indians are very passionate about gambling and it is ubiquitous in Indian society. Once the mindset of the government and legislators change and gambling is started to be accepted as a legitimate avenue of recreation, online and offline gambling will dominate the gaming industry.
Q. Is it true that responsible betting can actually reduce illegal practices and the government can make money in the form of taxes. Will legalising betting create more jobs for the unemployed section of the society?
A. Legalising betting and gambling will open up an entire sector and will generate employment for lakhs of youth. In Kerala, over 1,40,000 people are currently employed in the lottery trade in the state, mainly as agents and sellers.
Q. What is the status on The Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act?
A. The Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976 has been duly passed by the legislature and assented by the Governor. However it has not been implemented and rules have not been framed, despite the Bombay High Court giving directions to the state government to apply its mind on the issue. If the state government notifies the Casinos Act, it will generate thousands of crores in revenues while preventing illegal activities, bolstering tourism and generating employment for the unemployed section of the society. The government has to either decide to notify and enforce the law or repeal the legislation. It cannot keep the legislation in cold storage or abeyance forever.
Q. How is the Online Skill Games Act in Nagaland expected to show the way to other state governments to regulate and license this activity?
A. It is a first of its kind legislation and a visionary step by the Nagaland government, which will help in defeating the perception that playing skill games for real money amounts to gambling.The law will allow online skill games websites to apply for licenses for earning revenue and this license is applicable anywhere in India. After seeing the potential of the skill games and gaming industry, other states would not want to miss out on the opportunity of taxing the activity, legitimising it and earning revenues. Therefore, other states would possibly start following the Nagaland model in the next two-three years.
Q. Now that betting has been legalised in Manipur, do you think it is time for other states to wake up and follow suit?
A. As per my information, betting has not been legalised in Manipur. As of now, only Sikkim and Goa have legalised betting. It is high time for other states to legalise betting as it can actually lead to generation of more taxes and revenues. It will also lead to reduction in fixing, cheating and other illegal activities.