Home Ministry asks all states and Union Territories to repeal Public Gambling Act, 1867

Published on:

The Union Home Ministry has asked the states and Union Territories to take steps to repeal the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and to enact a new law on account of the increase in stakes. The number of suicides due to gambling has been seen as one of the major reasons. Moreover, there is no uniformity across the nation when it comes to deciding whether an activity is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’.

The Union Home Ministry explained in a letter why the states have been given the authority of opting or not opting against online gaming.

“Dear Chief Secretary/Administrator As you are aware that the Public Gambling Act, 1867 is an archaic, pre-independence Act and subject matter now comes under the State List, as ‘Betting and Gambling’ at entry no. 34 in List II of Schedule VII to the Constitution,” the ministry said as quoted by News 18.

“The Law Commission of India in its 248th Report of November 2014 observed that as per Article 372(1), if the subject-matter of a pre-constitutional law falls into the State List, the State Government is the competent legislature to repeal that Act. Further, Hon’ble Supreme Court in Kerala State Electricity Board vs. The Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd. [AIR 1976 SC 1031] stated that ‘after the Constitution came into force an existing law could be amended or repealed only by the legislature which would be competent to enact that-law if it were to be newly enacted’,” the ministry added in its letter.

According to the sources, Centre may bring a law to regulate online gaming but states can introduce legislation against both online and offline gaming. The ministry further added that they would be ‘grateful’ if immediate steps were taken to repeal the Public Gambling Act, 1867.

“If such an action has already been taken, details of State/UT law/regulation may please be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs at the earliest,” the letter added.

Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have already introduced a law banning both chance-based as well as skill-based online gaming which have faced challenges in courts while Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh among others have adopted the Public Gambling Act after incorporating some changes. The North Eastern states like Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Nagaland have drafted new laws to regulate online gaming.