Delhi High Court directs central government to act on illegal betting portals

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In an order dated 19 December 2023, the Delhi High Court division bench headed by Chief Justice directed the nodal officer appointed by central government to monitor and block illegal betting and gambling websites as per applicable laws.

The order came in as response to a PIL seeking a direction to the central government to ban / prevent online gambling websites from operating in NCT of Delhi and other States.

The petitioner listed down several illegal portals and stated that the games offered by these portals are not only games of chance but they provide an opportunity of betting, the outcome of which is based entirely on luck and out of the player’s intellectual or physical control.

The petitioner a victim of illegal portals stated that initially a player is lured to play a simple game and is slowly lured to indulge in betting and gambling. The petitioner said it is only after reaching an advance stage of these games that the player realizes that he has got himself into a vicious cycle, wherein there is no going back and in the process loses all his hard-earned money– as happened to the petitioner.

The counsel for the central government informed the Court that the Information Technology Act has provisions for interception and blocking of such illegal websites. The petitioner also informed the Court she has initially approached the Telangana Police but was offered money to keep silent.

After considering the submission of the counsel for central government, the High Court disposed of the petition with a direction to nodal officer of the central government to consider the petition as a representation and take appropriate action. The petitioner was represented by advocate Amish Aggarwala while the central government was represented by advocate Vaibhav Gaggar.

It is relevant to note that MeiTY in previous instances has blocked several illegal betting websites.

To control the menace of the illegal websites, the central government this year brought these portals under the tax ambit and mandated registration thereby making the persons behind the portals also liable for violation of tax laws if they continue operations with compliance with GST laws. Compliance with GST laws will make identification of individuals by law enforcement easier. Several websites have shut after introduction of the new GST regime but few still continue to operate.