Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Anshul Parsai

Gambling Laws : Regulation and Jurisdictions on Gambling


Gambling is an act of wagering 'stakes' on those events which have a totally uncertain outcome. In India, we may say from a bird's eye view, that gambling is illegal. The statute which deals with the act of gambling is called 'The Public Gambling Act 1867'. The 150 years old act is the only central act which deals with the subject, the reason being the inclosure of 'Betting & Gambling' in the State List. That means the rules and regulations with respect to betting and/or gambling are in the hands of the state governments and not the union. Some states have adopted the central act while the others have enacted their own legislations regarding the same.
 
Here, I look forward to making you all aware about the unreasonable and debatable provisions of the act i.e. The Public Gambling Act 1867. With it not being updated for more than a century, the activity within the section 3 imposes a fine of whole 200 bucks on the owner of a 'gaming house' and/or a jail time of 3 months. Further, the people found in those gaming houses are liable to pay a fine of Rs. 100 and/or to serve a period of one month (Section 4). The above mentioned are the maximum amounts/periods of fines/jail time to be rewarded.Moreover, Section 13 imposes a fine of mere 50 rupees for the offenders caught gaming and setting birds and animals to fight in public streets.

These irrational amounts are just a result of the act being old, REALLY OLD!
 
According to section 9 of the PGA, there is required no proof of 'playing for stakes' and thus a person caught playing in a gaming house (as in the context) he can't plead the defence that he was a mere player and was not playing for any stakes. Also, section 6 makes, finding of cards, dices or any other instruments of gaming enough evidence and no observance of actual playing stand necessary.
 
Now, is gambling illegal?




 

Gambling is legal in selective states in India (Goa, Sikkim and Daman) and in the rest of the country, it depends on the nature of the game in question. Section12 of the PGA, states that Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Act contained shall be held to apply to any game of mere skill wherever played. Thus the events (games majorly) which require a certain skill to be pursued are not governed by the act and thus betting on them may not be punishable (fixing is not being talked about). What are the games of skill? With betting on horse-racing being legalized, this question still remains in depths of ambiguity. There can be and have been many interpretations of the said section. Madras High Court in ajudgment has marked Rummy (a card game) as a game of skill as it requires considerable skill, that of memorizing the fall of cards and also that of holding and discarding the cards.
With respect to what exactly can be a definition for a game of skill, I'd like to quote a Supreme Court judgement from 1996 - '...A game of skill, on the other hand - although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated, is one in which success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player. Golf, chess and even Rummy are considered to be games of skill. The courts have reasoned that there are few games, if any, which consist purely of chance or skill, and as such a game of chance is one in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill, and a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. It is sue dominant element - "skill" or "chance" - which determines the character of the game'. Thus here too everything, just like in any other field of law, comes to the phrase "It Depends".
People against legalizing gambling usually base their stand on the act being morally wrong and addictive. On the other hand, those who are for legalizing the act may consider the economic factor of it. In the calculation of our national income, incomes from illegal activities like gambling are not counted, and thus despite people earning (also losing) a lot of money in the sector, there's no revenue income to the government. In the state of Goa, where it is legal to gamble, the state government had an income of over 100 crores from this sector.

Conclusion:
It won't be wrong to call gambling as morally wrong, as it has been a reason for destruction of many families but our laws are way too old to cope up with the modernized culture. This takes out the most important feature of the law 'dynamicity', law being dynamic is the major reason why it is called as the best means of social control. The Public Gambling Act is over 150 years old and thus it is time for a renewal. Along with different state legislation, it is important to have a central act which can be referred to in cases of confusion. The game of skill part, for instance, requires a thorough scrutiny by the judges. As the mindsets of judges may differ in various circumstances. Rummy being judged as a game of skill may be a good example, because even though the judgement is right as it requires skill to memorize the fall of cards and to hold and discard them, as soon as a deck is shuffled chance comes into play. No, game can be, thus, a game of mere skill, some amount of chance is always there, which makes Section 12 of the PGA quite irrelevant.
Legalizing gambling can be a good step as it'll boost the GDP growth of the nation exponentially.

P.S. - It is always a Goa trip and not a Bhopal trip which we plan about... ever wondered why?