In a firm stance against unauthorized online betting operations, the Indian government, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), has ordered the immediate blocking of 22 betting websites and apps. This move aims to staunch the flow of illicit gambling activities that have been operating without legal sanction.
Investigations Leading to Blockades
The crackdown follows thorough investigations by India's enforcement directorate (ED), which targeted illegal betting app syndicates. These investigations have not only resulted in website and app blockades but also in multiple raids, mainly targeting Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, uncovering unlawful operations.
Arrests and Legal Proceedings
The extensive probes have led to the arrest of several individuals involved in these operations. Notably, Bhim Singh Yadav, an employee of the Chhattisgarh police, was apprehended under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), highlighting the authorities' dedication to upholding the law and deterring illegal betting practices.
Government Intervention and Recommendations
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a minister of state, pointed out that while the local Chhattisgarh government possessed the authority to recommend the shutdown of such websites and apps, it failed to do so. Therefore, MeitY stepped in, responding promptly to the sole request from the ED.
New Taxation Measures
With these enforcement actions, India has also introduced a new online gambling tax rate. As of October 1, licensed operators face a 28% turnover tax for online gambling, casinos, and horse betting. This turnover-based tax is applied to the total face value of a bet rather than gross gaming revenue, a policy change that has already impacted the market, leading to the withdrawal of prominent operator Betway's parent company, Super Group.
Regulatory Revisions and Future Outlook
The recent measures are part of a broader regulatory revision in India's online gambling sphere. Earlier in the year, the government issued new rules to ensure online games do not violate existing laws. Proposals for self-regulatory bodies comprising online gaming businesses were also put forward to address various concerns, including player protection, addiction, financial crime, and the safety of minors.
Decisive Action Against Illegal Betting
The combination of stringent legal actions, reinforced by regulatory updates, underscores India's resolve to control and clean up the online gambling ecosystem. The recent developments convey that India is serious about regulating its digital gaming sector and protecting its citizens from unregulated gambling.