Technical progress has brought the opportunity to gamble online, but national and state
legislators are lagging behind and have left it to exist in a grey area. Negative effects include loss of tax revenue and lack of consumer and data protection, but also notable is that organized crime is given another source of income that strengthens their ranks.
New Arrests Connected with Online Gambling
The Gambling Insider recently reported a new case involving credit card fraud and illegal online gambling with links to China. Residents of Nadia district’s town of Karimpur, West Bengal, suspected a certain house was used for criminal activities and tipped the authorities. Early in the morning on Sunday, the 27 th of June, the police entered the premises and arrested three young men in their early thirties and seized 800 SIM cards and a number of PayTM barcodes.
The three detainees – Mujibur Sheikh, Ramen Karmakar, and Manabendra Sarkar – were
subjected to preliminary interrogation and soon admitted to illicitly obtaining debit and credit card details and CVV (card verification values). The trio achieved this by cheating innocent people claiming that they were bank officials.
Sheikh, Karmakar, and Sarkar also confessed to having been working together with associates based in China on some online gambling schemes. This information made local police attract the cyber crime wing of Krishnagar district police to the investigation.
Criminal online gambling generally involves the creation of secure groups on instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Telegram. The group admins refer users to gambling websites which are typically hosted in China. The placing of bets is usually done through India based online payment services like PayTM. Winning proceeds are wired to several linked bank account with the aim to avoid Indian government scanning for income tax.
Online Gambling is Left Out in Grey Area
The West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competitions Act was adopted back in 1957 and
obviously does not mention online gambling at all. The law mainly deals with banning gaming houses and organized gambling. Imposed penalties include imprisonment of three years for gaming house organizers and three month minimum for gamblers caught there. At the same time, some forms of betting and gambling like lotteries, horseracing and several types of card games such as poker and rummy are legalized but have to be organized only by licensed operators.
This leaves online gambling on foreign sites outside the scope of the law. Indeed, there are many offshore online casino operators like 10Cric who strife for legality and take care to observe Indian tax legislation. Players can easily find them if they visit established casino affiliate SevenJackpots and choose from the list of verified and trusted casino platforms listed there.
On the other hand, the unclear legal status of online gambling and betting provides the
opportunity to criminal syndicates to add this to their illegal activities. This not only results in loss of revenue for the state and national budgets, but no consumer protection and data safety measures can be expected from such operators as well.
Not Legalizing Online Gambling Fuels Criminal Syndicates
The 2021 Deloitte India Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions report
estimates that desi online gaming market is to reach $ 2.8 billion (approximately ₹ 20,500 crore) in 2022 and the total number of online gamers is to reach 368 million in the same year. A 2018 report on Mobile Gaming in India by Kantar IMRB and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) estimates casino and betting at 23 per cent of all online gaming.
This means we can expect 85 million Indians to place a total of $ 644 million in bets in 2022. If regulation and legalization does not happen in the meantime on a national or all state level, we can expect a sizable chunk of this market to go into the hands of criminals and be used to strengthen their organizations.