The huge popularity of the Indian Premier League's Twenty20 tournament has created a storm of betting by cricket-mad fans, but because betting is technically illegal in India, at least some of the action has gone to offshore websites. The Economic Times in London investigated the phenomenon this week, reporting that major UK-licensed bookmakers like William Hill and Paddy Power are accepting online bets from India.
The article quotes Rupert Adams, a spokesperson for William Hill, who estimated his company will make £4 million on the current IPL series alone.
"Yes, we do accept online bets from India, the only territory we do not accept bets from is the US," he said. "However, 80% of our online betting on IPL comes from UK residents, and 20% from all overseas jurisdictions, so (the actual Indian domiciled bets are) a very small share."
Adams told the Economic Times that IPL cricket is dominated by online betting, because the demographic for cricket gambling is different from the corner high-street betting shop.
The publication notes that online gambling sites like William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair are licensed and regulated under British law. "If Indian citizens are breaking some local law while in India, it does not impact bookmakers in UK functioning under British law. Major bookmakers always follow the rules, even for outside jurisdictions," one internet gambling consultant told the reporter.
Online gambling in India falls in the gap between the Public Gambling Act and the IT Act, neither of which addresses the subject directly, the article concludes. "Legal opinion in India is that online gambling (in India) is somehow illegal, though the law is silent on the subject."
Illustrating the point, the publication quotes Indian law expert Ameet Naik, who opined : "A website for online betting and gambling cannot be hosted from a state which restricts gambling or betting.
"However, it is debatable as to whether it is permissible for a person to participate in online gambling and betting from a state which restricts betting even though the online betting website would be hosted from a jurisdiction which permits betting."
Another Indian lawyer, Anand Desai, said: "The Public Gambling Act, 1867 provides for penalties if a person is found in a gaming house. FEMA prohibits Indian residents sending money overseas for purchase of lottery tickets, sweepstakes etc.
"But Indian law has no specific prohibition for online gambling (legally) hosted on a website outside India."
Source: InfoPowa News