Activist looks to stop online poker and betting in Delhi
Avinash Mehrotra has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Delhi High Court
seeking a directive from the Union Ministry of Information Technology as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to try to end all forms of gambling within the country. The petition asks that the High Court “bring illegal and illicit online gambling/betting/wagering/gaming to an end.”
In his petition, Mehrotra claims that illegal and illicit online gambling has become an increasingly serious problem that is ruining the financial security as well as the lives of large numbers of people within the country. He adds that several websites are encouraging people to take large risks with their money on games, such as poker, sports betting, as well as election betting.
While not all the websites listed in the petition are in India, those that are listed include a fairly formidable group of betting operators. This includes such betting sites as Betway, BetRally India, 1xBet, Royal Panda, and Dafabet, as well as Indian based poker websites Adda52, PokerStars.in and Khelo365. The petition adds:
“These websites seem to encourage the horrible habit of gambling amongst youngsters, and are doing so solely with a view of making large amounts of profits at the cost of these unsuspecting citizens of our great nation.”
The petition is directed at the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act which was introduced in 2015 and signed into law by the governor a year later. This bill gave authority to the state government to allow for “Games of skill” to be allowed and regulated on an online platform. This was seen as a means to help the state government earn additional revenue through licensing fees and royalties.
While the PIL specifically attacks the morality of gambling, the reality is that he is using technicalities in how the law has been written and implemented to try to make his point before the court that the law should be stricken.
This move looks to stunt an industry that is growing rapidly. Recently, India’s Mobile Premier League raised $35.5 million as part of a funding round. The company has also claimed that they had 25 million downloads of the application within the country since last year.Clearly, the people of the country are enjoying this additional freedom and are seeing it as an opportunity to have a new source of entertainment.
The PIL is expected to be heard by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Bhambhani on 29th May 2019.
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