Race For Local Gambling Regulation Begins In India

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The race is on to become India’s most gambling-friendly state after a UK Indian Business Council (UKIBC) report listed Meghalaya as the current top dog. However, at the time of writing, only tourists can gamble at land-based casinos in Meghalaya. It unveils the strange scenario whereby residents from neighbouring states can cross the border to gamble in Meghalaya, but those with Meghalayan citizenship will be forbidden.

It begs several questions – what if politicians from every Indian state see the success of Meghalaya and introduce similar laws? Will it set off a train of legislative decisions that eventually leads to complete legalization? Does the approach in Meghalaya make any sense?

Will The Meghalaya Law Inspire More Regions?

The Goa Gaming Commissioner is already on the case! According to recent reports, officials in the region are mobilizing to transition into a gambling-safe environment. The state-appointed gaming commissioner – hired back in 2019 – is reportedly submitting a proposal to chief minister Pramod Sawant to make a final decision.

Were the proposal to prove successful, regulation of gambling properties and casinos in the state would make Goa one of the most progressive regions in India for the iGaming sector. Like Meghalaya, locals are expected to be excluded from entry to venues.

Banning Locals May Prove Regressive

There are several practical and moral implications of forbidding local citizens from partaking in gambling.

Firstly – should the industry be in the business of excluding anyone from a right to gamble? It smacks of otherizing – everyone should be able to place a bet, particularly if it is safely and robustly legalized. Land-based casinos will miss out on a massive revenue stream, but it could also force locals into the hands of underground gambling houses or online black market betting sites to play Teen Patti and Andar Bahar games.

Critics argue that banning state citizens from participating is a regressive and unfair move.

Mass Legalization Is On The Mind

If neighbouring states follow the examples set by Meghalaya and Goa, India could find itself in a strange situation. Domestic tourists unable to bet in their state will travel a few hours to cross the border to partake in gambling.

In essence, it is possible to see states moving to steal the revenue of rival regions.

Could this lead to a groundswell of support for local and national regulation on both the land-based and online sectors? When local leaders realize the industry’s potential, will more vociferous support from inside the national parliament to create a competitive nationwide gambling business community?

A future where business focus to establish the best online casino in India trumps all else is perfectly feasible. If full national regulation is introduced, it will become a stampede to the top rather than a race to the bottom.

What Are The Benefits Of Local And National Regulation?

Gambling experts have been arguing for years about the benefits of liberalizing the gambling market. One paper by a leading industry body highlights the benefits of bringing the casino industry to life in states like Goa.

The paper by ENV Media, titled Overview of Goa’s Casino Communities, argues that by embracing the casino sector, local communities can enjoy extensive benefits: “Industry studies suggest that more training can be given to residents who wish to be part of casino tourism. This will extend current benefits, provide more employment opportunities, improve the quality of life of more Goans and encourage better infrastructure facilities.”

However, they also advise more education is needed at a local level to ensure a safe, responsible, and thriving business:

“Further comparative sector analysis suggests that the Goa government can, and should, use media for awareness campaigns to better inform and educate gamblers. Casinos themselves should be stimulated with flexible incentives to get some meaningful territorial visibility through social responsibility efforts and support to potential or current problem gamblers.”

The paper sums up its arguments by arguing against further crowding of the land casino space and thinking outside the box when it comes to liberalizing the sector at regional levels across India.

“Catering more to online gaming platforms and dedicating upcoming concessions to online casino operations will grow local revenues while avoiding more local problems.”