The Law Commission of India is set to recommend legalizing betting on sport, including cricket, and having a stringent national law to closely regulate online gambling. The commission was asked by the Supreme Court in July 2016 to examine whether betting on cricket should be legalized, and a law be framed to enable that. Tasked with preparing a report on the issue, the commission is now working out the finer details of its recommendations.
While hearing a case on the Justice RM Lodha committee’s suggestions to reform Indian cricket administration, an SC bench headed by the then Chief Justice TS Thakur had said in its order on July 18, 2016: “The recommendation made by the committee that betting [on cricket] should be legalized involves the enactment of a law, which is a matter that may be examined by the law commission and the government for such action as may be consider necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case.” One of the key recommendations of the panel was: ‘Legalisation for betting and criminalization for match-fixing’.
The commission is exploring various legal options to suggest to the Centre and the top court to bring a law regulating online sport betting and gambling. While gambling is a subject on the state list in the Constitution — meaning it is for the states to legislate on it — activities on the internet can be regulated through a central act. One of the proposals being studied by the panel is to ask for setting up a gaming commission and providing all-India licenses to operators. The Information Technology Act has provisions to protect vulnerable sections, including children and the poor. Also, Article 249 gives Parliament the power to legislate on a matter in the State List citing national interest.
“Strict rules against betting and gambling have not necessarily acted as a deterrent. Online gambling and betting is another area which has become very difficult to curb,” the commission had observed while inviting suggestions from stakeholders and the public in June this year.
By- Nikita Goel, Convenor, Student Reporter Committee, INBA