Chhattisgarh cabinet approves draft law to combat online gambling, to be tabled in assembly soon

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In a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, the Chhattisgarh cabinet today approved the Chattisgarh Gambling (Prohibition) Bill 2022. With this Chattisgarh joins Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka where the issue of online gaming for stakes is discussed at the highest levels of government in recent times.

Online gambling and betting runs deep into the Chhattisgarh society through Mahadev Book and its variants. These portals are reportedly run by Chattisgarh natives who are based out of Dubai now. This makes Chattisgarh unique as the other States are primarily contemplating laws to target online poker and rummy while in Chhattisgarh it is online betting menace that prompted the government to contemplate a legislation.

The Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly election is scheduled to be held in or before November 2023 and Baghel government is under pressure to address the menace. The legislation will reportedly be tabled in the upcoming winter session.

The government has not yet released the draft law to public domain and it is not clear if the law will also target online skill games like poker and rummy.

Mahadev Book and its variants reportedly generate money to the tune of Rs 250-300 crore per month. The prime accused are Saurabh Chandrakar, Ravi Uppal and Atul Agrawal from Bhilai and Raigarh, all three currently out of the country.

According to an undated anonymous complaint, the group started online gambling operations in 2019-20 which grew exponentially between 2019 and 2021 supported by Covid19 lockdowns.

In September this year, Baghel directed the Director General of Police Ashok Juneja to submit a draft law with necessary provisions  to combat online gambling and betting.

It is worth noting that Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had sacked the previous DGP DM Awasthi after the latter failed to prevent social crimes like gambling and betting in the state of Chhattisgarh.