The legalisation of gambling in India has been a contested topic of discussion for more than 150 years, however, the subject has recently become more debated than ever, following an increase in online gambling sites in India, due in large part to the increased internet penetration within the country.
The two sides of the debate are deadlocked on the issue of whether online gambling should be legalised in India or not, and the potential problems and benefits that legalisation would bring about in the country.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the issue of gambling addiction, which is a societal problem in all countries, including countries where gambling is legal, as well as countries where it is prohibited.
Will Online Gambling Lead To an Increase in Gambling Addiction in India?
One of the main arguments among opponents of legal online gambling in India is that legalising gambling will result in much greater access to gambling sites, which in turn will lead to more people becoming addicted to gambling.
If it is the case that anyone can actually become a gambling addict, then it is reasonable to assume that the government prohibition of online gambling is preventing many people from falling into the social and financial abyss that is problem gambling.
However, one of the questions that this argument fails to address is whether some people are inherently prone to gambling addiction due to their genetic heritage, their upbringing, or some other inherent factor, or if anyone can essentially become addicted to gambling regardless of who they are, simply by frequenting an online gambling site or gambling on a regular basis.
According to MedicalNewsToday, there are studies which suggest that genetic and neurological factors may indeed play a role in creating a gambling addiction within a person. It is also suggested that people who are prone to other addictions may be more at risk to gambling addiction.
So does this mean that people who are prone to gambling addiction are indeed benefitting from the prohibition of online gambling, due to the fact that they are being forcefully restricted from frequenting an online gambling site?
Or do gambling addicts simply find other venues where they can satisfy their gambling urges, such as by frequenting illegal, underground gambling shops and the like?
If gambling addicts are in fact an inherent part of society whether gambling is legal or not, then perhaps it makes sense to legalise online gambling, due to the fact that it forces the state to recognise that gambling addicts exist, and it enables us to help them.
Legal Online Gambling May Be Beneficial for Gambling Addicts
In the current legal climate, gambling addiction is not regarded as a problem, because officially there is no registry of gambling addicts, or even a formal plan in place to help gambling addicts in India.
This is due to the fact that the Indian government, more or less, regards gambling as illegal in India (with the exception of some legal loopholes).
This means that gambling addicts in India are more or less left to their own devices. And in addition to their painful addiction, they also have to live with the constant fear of legal repercussions, if they are caught using an illegal gambling shop or a gambling site.
However, if gambling was legalised in India, there is a possibility that this would actually have a positive effect on gambling addiction in the country.
First of all, the state would be able to formally recognise that gambling addicts exist, and they need help. Furthermore, regulating gambling would allow the state to levy taxes on gambling operators (such as real money online casinos).
Part of this revenue could then be used to establish a national gambling authority in India, such as has been done in many other countries around the world (Germany, Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Denmark, among others).
Also, it would eliminate the constant fear of legal repercussions looming over every gambling addict, and enable the state to help these people ease out of their addiction in a legal way with guidance from state-sponsored councillors.
Contrary to popular belief, gambling addiction has not run amok in countries where online gambling has been legalised – quite the opposite actually – gambling has become a regulated part of society which is practised purely for entertainment purposes by the vast majority of people.