Turning a Deaf Ear to Soothing Music

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By Hilal Manzoor Wagay

IT is hard to believe that most moral of human beings, incapable of telling a lie, cannot resist the sound of a dice. Couple days ago, I got a call from one of my esteemed friends who also happens to be from Kashmir and working for livelihood with one of the Multinational Company at Noida and requested for Legal Advice. What he revealed was a shocker to me, and I thought it worth sharing. My friend took a whopping loan of 13 lakh rupees and lost little by little of it in gambling, not in a traditional way but via new norms of gambling online, in Dream 11 and Rummy. In fact, my friend does not have any other source or shoulder, to payoff or share the liability and this introduced him to the world of depression.

Dream 11 is an Indian fantasy sports platform that allows users to play fantasy Cricket, Hockey, Football, Kabaddi and Basketball. Gambling is an instinct and present in all human beings and majority of individuals and realms are of the opinion that if gambling be regulated and structured appropriately, it will be advantageous for the economic expansion of the nations.

Whether gambling should be legalized or not has been an ongoing debate for decades now. Many countries had legalized betting activities such as UK (as per Gambling Act of 2005, it is legal for UK residents to gamble) and China and these activities are profoundly taxed in order to use the revenue collected from said activities to boost the economy. Proponents of legalizing betting opine that there are many recompenses of gambling apart from enhancing economy. For instance, it will prevent gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being impaired or exploited by gambling, most essentially will curb the generation of black money.

In numerous countries new legislations had been delineated and framed to regulate and legalise gambling activities, be it online domain or offline area, but in India this area is still considered as a gray area and no new central legislations have been passed to regulate or legalise gambling activities.

In India, gambling activities are still governed by the rusty pre independence legislation passed during the British rule called, Public Gambling Act,1867. As per Seventh Schedule List II entry 34 Gambling and betting is covered under State Subjects and states are either entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states or follow the legislation passed by Central Government.

Gambling is nowhere defined in India under any legislation pertaining to gambling. But three things which were excluded from the ambit of gambling are Betting on Horse Race (subject to the legal regulations), Games of Skill (excluded under the Gambling Act and by Court Judgments’) and Lotteries (regulated by lottery Laws of India). It is incumbent to state that certain online gambling activities/games were covered under the ambit of Game of Skill as held in catena of judgments and were allowed to carry these activities forward like Dream 11 and Rummy. There is a difference between Game of Skill and Game of Chance, where former does not come under the ambit of Gambling as skill remains the predominant factor in such activities/games and success depends upon the knowledge and experience of performer. Whereas the latter depends on sheer luck and final outcome of the game is unpredictable, that is the reason Game of Chance is banned in most of the Indian states.

In India gambling is allowed in Damman and Diu, Sikkim and Goa, whereas Lottery had been legalised in 13 states be it online or offline like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Punjab etc.

Business of fantasy sports is growing at a lightning speed. It had witnessed three times the growth in the past twelve months, recording more than 2400 Crores growth in revenue as compared to last year’s 920 Crores, all thanks to smart phones and free access to high speed internet. It might be beneficial for economic growth but what about the people like my friend?

They only way out is that if gambling is an instinct it can be controlled well with self-motivation and strong will. If the dice is soothing music one can turn a deaf ear towards it.

The author is an Advocate at Delhi High Court

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