Isn’t It High Time For Indian Parliament To Revise Gambling Laws?
India is a hub of young and energetic youth wishing to engage in high adrenaline activities such as adventure sports. Another such activity is gambling. Many forms of gambling are illegal in India, however some forms such as lottery and horseracing are considered legal. Gambling has been given the status of a glorious activity, quick claim to fame as well as an opportunity of becoming rich the easier way by many Hollywood films such as 21 and Runner Runner. In fact, many individuals have amassed impossible amounts of wealth as professional poker players and have been operating in the capacity of a business owner.
India, at a stage when it eyeing a permanent seat at the United Nation’s Security Council and is looking to jump from the class of a developing nation to a developed nation, should consider introducing gambling as a regulated trade and benefit from levying taxes on the money acquired from gambling. Some states like Goa, Sikkim and Daman have legalised gambling and it was reported that Goa earned an amount of 135 crore rupees in the 2012-2013 fiscal year in the form of taxes from gambling establishments. This instance proves that gambling has the potential of contributing a significant amount to our nation’s GDP.
Many people have ethical problems when the topic of regulating gambling comes along. The most common arguments that can be heard are gambling in sports. I fail to understand why gambling can’t be applied to sports as long as the games are not rigged? In my opinion, India loses a gargantuan amount of money every year (yes, money that is placed on bets) that is converted to black money. Bets on sports take place whether we like it or not, so why not just regulate the whole process and let the government take a piece of the action which can be constructively invested in the infrastructure and welfare of a country where poverty is still a pressing issue and people still can’t afford healthy meals three times a day.
I would like to offer a counter argument that stocks are also a form of speculative betting. We gather information and news about the company and study its balance sheets to purchase stocks for a particular company. Similarly, people participating in betting on sports study the performance and scorecards of the players to place bets on them. Please bear in mind that I am not promoting or supporting activities that are currently prohibited by the country (and you shouldn’t as well, constitution is meant to be respected), I am merely offering an alternative that perhaps we can can learn something from the gaming commissions of Nevada and the casino establishments of Las Vegas. Many countries have successfully regulated gambling and a significant portion of the fiscal earnings of those countries come from such establishments.
Another argument that people bring up is that people lose huge amounts of money gambling and that gambling is a vice. Well, maybe. Actually, there isn’t a counter-argument that I can offer to this particular point. But then aren’t liquor consumption, lotteries vices that have been regulated? I believe it is better to sacrifice little something for the greater good. Illegal betting is putting people at a greater risk as it exposes people to the anti-social elements of our society.
The Modi government has been working well to address long ignored topics and working to improve the brand equity of our country abroad. Perhaps it’s high time that it should consider amending the old Gambling Laws present in our constitution as well as pitch for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in this sector. Surely, this would not be a cakewalk, there will be concerned voices and a lot of resistance, but if the government shows the spine to at least call for a debate on this at the parliament, I believe that the concerns of the ethical groups can be well addressed and ultimately, the growth of our country would benefit from this in the long run.