Gambling has always existed in India. There are enough historical records to prove that. In the great Indian epic of Mahabharata, a game of dice plays an important role, as it acts as a precursor to the big battle of Kurukshetra. Excavations at the Indus Valley civilization sites, which existed close to 5000 years ago, have unearthed dices made out of clay and terracotta, which points towards the fact that gambling was prevalent during that era too.
As times have changed, so have our gambling habits. While dice and card games are still played by family and friends during the festivities of Diwali and Janmashtami, more and more individuals are turning towards online betting sites in India to get access to real money gambling.
Gambling laws in India
In most parts of India, gambling is considered to be illegal, thanks to the Public Gambling Act passed in 1867, during the British rule in India. Goa, Sikkim, and Daman are the only three regions of the country which legally allow casinos to operate within its boundaries.
These states have used the power bestowed upon them by the Constitution of India, to form their own laws regarding gambling. Goa legalized offshore as well as land casinos in five-star hotels after passing the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gaming Act in 1976, while Sikkim passed the Sikkim Regulation of Gambling Act in 2005, paving way for legal casinos.
While these regions are reaping the benefits of legalized gambling, other states are definitely losing out, as even despite a ban on casinos, players can easily gamble on online gambling sites. This has made an even stronger case for legalizing gambling in more or all parts of India.
Let’s have a quick look at how legalizing gambling can benefit the Indian economy.
Higher tax revenues
According to official data, Goa collected more than 400 crores as revenues from the casinos in FY 2019. If just one state can collect so much revenue, the collections could be in thousands of crores, if gambling was legalized in the entire country.
Currently, thanks to the online casinos which are not liable to pay taxes in India, the government is forgoing huge amounts of potential revenues. If collected, these revenues can be utilized towards building better infrastructure, schools, and other public facilities.
Generation of employment
Land and offshore casinos can help create a lot of employment opportunities in the country. Since most casinos operate within luxury hotels or huge offshore vessels, there is a constant demand for service staff, maintenance staff, as well as other allied industries.
Boost to tourism
Goa and Sikkim are popular destinations for Indian gamblers, as they are the only places where they can enjoy the `physical´ casinos. In addition to the casino revenues, they also provide a boost to local tourism, demand better connectivity, and in general lift up the economy of the entire area.
In addition to providing the economic benefits, one key area where legalized gambling can help is by curbing illegal activities. In states where gambling and betting is banned, it is a known fact that it is still prevalent, albeit `underground´. Such operations are often controlled by syndicates and local mafia, with no regulations. There is a real danger to the money of anyone who deals with them, and in some cases, there may even be a danger to their lives. Legalized gambling can help a great deal in reducing the nuisance of such antisocial activities.
Legalized gambling is something which has been called for quite some time now. There has even been a suggestion by the Law Commission to legalize the gambling industry. Only time will tell when the government will pay heed to such calls.