Noida-based NGO writes to PMO to curb menace of illegal betting and gambling websites

Published on:

Noida-based not-for-profit organization Social Organization for Creating Humanity (SOCH) has addressed a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the issue of widespread presence of illegal betting and gambling websites.

The letter highlights the rapidly growing trend of online gaming adoption among young people and how access to smartphones and internet has had them addicted to these games. Many youth are also visiting illegal betting websites and losing huge sums of money.

SOCH said that they have raised this issue through various means many times before. In their recent move, the NGO filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the recent amendments to the online gaming rules by MeitY.

According to the PIL filed at the Delhi HC, SOCH claims that the new rules are inadequate to properly regulate the online gaming sector and they are outside the legislative scope of the government. It is the states that can legislate on betting and gambling, the NGO claimed.

Moreover, according to the NGO the plan to outsource regulatory powers to SRBs that will be financed by gaming companies is “irrational, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

In the letter, SOCH also touched on the subject of advisories issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to OTT, TV service providers and digital media not to broadcast advertisements of illegal offshore betting companies and also lauded the government’s efforts to ban their websites.

However, despite the efforts many of these illegal platforms are still operating using different domain names. The letter claims that these entities were found transferring funds abroad through illegal channels, violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). This could pose “grave economic security risk”, the letter emphasized.

Furthermore, while the list of websites banned by MeitY consisted of some of the biggest illegal offshore betting operators, many others were missing and are still operating without any restrictions.

SOCH requested the PM to personally intervene in the matter and recommended steps that the government can take in order to curb the “menace of risks illegal betting and gambling websites”. These included –

1. The NGO provided a list of all websites that are operating illegally and suggested MeitY to block access to them under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000.

2. Ministry of Home Affairs, ED, CBI and NIA should send letters to host countries of these illegal betting websites, asking them to prosecute as per their nation’s laws.

3. OTTs, TV and print media still promoting these illegal betting websites, despite multiple advisories, should be blocked and prosecuted.

4. Registering FIR against payment providers who help companies transfer funds in violation of FEMA.

5. Taking strict actions against people operating, facilitating and promoting these websites by means of a new legislation or ordinance.