Centre to Delhi High Court: State govt to enact laws to regulate online gaming

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The Ministry of Electronics Information and Technology, via an affidavit, has told the Delhi High Court that issues pertaining to online gambling fall under the domain of states, and that some states have even enacted laws for the same.

Centre’s affidavit was filed in a plea seeking a ban on online gaming sites. It argues that the petitioner has failed to implead state governments as parties to the case. It also states that proper adjudication would not be possible unless the respective state governments are part of the proceedings.

The case was deferred by the bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh to October 11, 2021, after observing that the petitioner has yet to be served with a reply copy. The Bench added that to ensure effective enforcement, states must have adequate provisions to ban online gambling. 

Earlier, the Delhi HC had issued notice to the Centre for guidance and directions regarding the matter of prohibiting online gambling from operating in the country. The PIL, filed by Avinash Mehrotra, represented through advocates Awantika Manohar, Siddharth Iyer, and Prashant Kumar, sought directions for steps to recover taxes from people who played the gambling games and from those who run the website.

Apart from this, the plea also sought a writ for the prosecution of the owners and proprietors of those online gambling websites. Gambling is illegal in the country as per the laws and many legislations have forbidden these games as well, it stated.

The plea mentioned, “it is submitted that despite the presence of these provisions, a large number of websites can be accessed in the territory of India, through appropriate devices, and a person is free to gamble with cards or bet on the outcome of sports results, etc.” The petitioner had submitted that gambling is prohibited in Delhi by the Delhi Public Gambling Act 1955.

“It is submitted that all these activities though expressly prohibited by law are being carried out because of a lack of enforcement of the laws in question. Thus, despite being per se illegal these gambling websites are being permitted to operate and drive normal people towards economic and financial as well as social ruination,” said the plea.

It even added that “online gambling by itself is an addictive activity and those currently addicted to this activity are not in the correct frame of mind, to take steps to protect themselves and the public at large from this menace.”