Gambling in India: The Laws, Economics and The Lawyers

By Jay Sayta

Gaming law is the set of laws and regulations that apply to the gambling, lottery, betting and virtual gaming industry.

Though unconventional and according to many, unethical, a good gaming lawyer must have good knowledge of all traditional branches of law like Constitutional law, Taxation law, Contract law, Criminal law and Cyber law.

The concept of gaming law: Gaming law as a legal profession has developed in North America and Europe, where gambling and lotteries have seen tremendous growth in the recent past and are well-regulated and in most countries legal.

There are numerous lawyers in U.S.A., U.K. and Germany exclusively dealing with gaming law cases.

With the online gambling and virtual gaming industry alone worth more than $ 21 billion and a projected growth rate of more than 15% a year (add to that, the exponential rise in land-based casinos), these gaming operators are likely to need a lot of legal help in the near future.

An organisation called the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) comprising of numerous gaming lawyers from North America and Europe has been formed to monitor developments in gaming laws.  Such associations only indicate the rise in the demand for gaming lawyers and a need for a lobby to reform these laws.

Gaming law in India:  Gaming law has not developed as a field of practice because in most states of India gambling and lotteries are illegal.

It is expected that this field of law will attract a number of good legal professionals in the near future [ethics permitting] as the Ministry of Law and Justice is studying a proposal to legalise gambling.

A lot of social affairs writers and businessmen have also been vociferous critics of the ban on gambling. So, one can reasonably expect the gambling sector to be opened up in the near future.

Economies and opportunities: The illegal gambling industry earns more than Rs. 50,000 crore a year.  Add to that the Rs.30, 000 crore legal gambling and lottery business and Rs. 15,000 crore illegal lottery rackets.

And if foreign investments are allowed in the gambling business (currently India does not allow foreign investment on lotteries and gambling), this sector will celebrate a spate of its own successfully won lotteries!

What does a gaming lawyer do?
A typical gaming lawyer works in a casino or gambling works in the legal department of casino, gambling company, state gaming, gambling or lottery departments as consultants. They have to obviously be well versed with the country’s gaming laws.

Gaming lawyers also have to monitor recent developments in tax laws, municipal regulations and other local restrictions that may apply.

Another important function of gaming lawyers includes lobbying with politicians urging for reforms in certain laws restricting gambling. Gaming lawyers also have to often lobby to get clearances for local gambling projects.

Social issues: In addition to all of this gaming lawyers also have to research about social issues surrounding gambling. For example, gaming lawyers may have to find a solution for social problems like crime and addiction that gambling causes. In addition to this, they may have to convince local people and officials of the feasibility and utility of setting up casinos.

This article has been written by Jay Sayta, a 1st year student at the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata. His blog Gambling Laws (www.glaws.in) is probably the first blog of its kind in India with stimulatingly informative articles on gambling laws in India. His article “KBC Ghar Baith Lakhpati Contest: Are the organisers committing a criminal offence” was particularly popular.

Images from here and here.

Views expressed in this article are of the author alone.

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