Analysis: Law Commission suggests legalizing Gambling& Betting on Sports


Legalization of betting in sports in India has always been a subject of contention. Law Commission suggested the union government yesterday to legalize gambling and betting on sports including cricket. This again spurred the debate in the country about the pros and cons of legalizing this and whether this suits the country like India.

Current status on Gambling and Betting:

Currently Gambling and betting are not legal in India, except it is allowed with restrictions in Goa, Daman and Sikkim. At present the legal framework only allows betting in horse racing and some allowed lotteries (That’s why you see scenes involving “Sikkim Bumper lottery” in several Telugu movies). Currently law penalizes the involvement in betting in sports at both player and organizer level with financial penalties and judicial sentences.

Current laws governing Gambling and Betting:

The laws that controlling this Gambling and betting have been enacted during British era – Public Gambling Act 1867 and Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 still in operation and control this activity. In 2013, the Supreme Court has mandated the Law Commission to look into the matter and come up with recommendations.

Law Commission recommendations:

Law Commission opined, that a complete ban on activities like betting is not working and so it suggested overturning India’s stringent laws regarding this. The Law Commission also says gambling and betting should be made taxable under the direct and indirect tax regimes and could be used to attract foreign direct investment.

The Law Commission says:

  • Parliament should enact a law to allow highly-regulated versions of gambling
  • Gambling and betting should be made taxable
  • It could be used to attract foreign direct investment or FDI.
  • Aadhaar or PAN cards individuals indulging in betting and gambling should be linked for all their activities.
  • Making the transactions in Gambling and betting cashless to regulate illegal activities

Arguments for legalizing Gambling and Betting:

There have been arguments in support of legalizing Gambling and Betting. Some say, legalizing the activity will help curtail an important source of black money. Moreover, it brings massive revenues to the state and that can be used for various welfare schemes.

Moreover, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) estimated that the underground betting market in India is huge at Rs.3,00,000 crore. In UK, where the total revenue is in tune of 6 billion pounds provides over 1,00,000 jobs in British economy. In the U.S., it employs over 2.5 lakh people. So, in India too it has huge potential for generating employment.

In addition, anti-betting laws in India have failed to effectively implement the imposition on betting in sports. So, it is better to legalize it.

So overall, curbing black money, getting tax revenues and generating employment are the arguments for legalizing Gambling and Betting.

Arguments for NOT legalizing Gambling and Betting:

Thes arguments for legalizing Gambling and Betting seem to have been put forth without keeping ground realities in mind.

We must remember that India is a developing nation where large sections of the population still survive on daily wages. Legalizing this may impact livelihoods of many families in India. In the Indian society, there is a belief that gambling a social evil and that is definitely true after seeing lives of several middle-class and lower class families. Betting and gambling causes addiction, loss of livelihoods and bankruptcy.

Moreover, there is no surety that legalizing this will curb black money. In fact it may spur even more black money generation. What government can do if betting organizations report different numbers in their websites and operate with different amounts inside their shops. To be frank, this is most probable outcome after legalization.

Attempting to legalize this by showing the reason of failure in controlling illegal betting is inherently illogical. It is like arguing that we are not able to control road accidents due to drunken driving, rapes and drug abuse and so we should consider legalizing all these.

A robust regulatory framework governing the gaming sector after legalization too to just make sure it is operating in line with the provisions of the law.

Can BJP led union government enact law as per suggestions of Law commission:

Even if Modi government wishes to legalize gambling and betting as per the suggestions of law commission, it is difficult to do so. Because, the subject of gambling is in “the State List” as per constitution. Center can legislate only on the items listed in central list or concurrent list. So, parliament has to amend constitution first so that gambling can figure in the Concurrent List and this amendment needs 2/3 members support in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and NDA doesn’t have numbers to do so. Other option is center can request states to legislate as per law commission recommendations and states may either oblige or refuse.


It is not a good trend to legalize social ills that governments can’t control. Failure of governments in bringing curbing the social evils or curbing black money should not be reason enough to legalize betting. Definitely, this is not the “Ache din” people aspired for.

In India, where laws act strongly on weak and weakly on strong and the country where the measure like demonetization failed to curb the black money, legalizing betting may not be successful either in curbing black money or curbing social evils.

-ZURAN (@CriticZuran)

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here