Hyderabad: Police bust online cricket betting racket during Sri Lanka-Pakistan Asia Cup final

In India, each state has the autonomy to enact its laws on gambling. The only states to legalise gambling so far are Goa and Sikkim.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Sep 13, 2022 | 7:00 AMUpdatedSep 13, 2022 | 7:00 AM

In India, each state has the autonomy to enact its laws on gambling. (Creative Commons)

The Rachakonda Police on Monday, 12 September, arrested two people for allegedly running an online cricket-betting racket, and seized items worth ₹4.5 lakh from them.

The men were arrested near the municipal office in Thukkuguda in the Rangareddy district based on a tip-off on Sunday, 11 September night, the police said.

The cops added that the bookies were betting on the final cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the 2022 Asia Cup.

The Pahadi Shareef police also seized ₹3.5 lakh in cash, three mobile phones, and a two-wheeler from the accused.

Investigators identified the arrested men as Chandragiri Mahesh (28) and Manikonda Pandu (40), both residents of the Rangareddy district.

Raids are being conducted in different locations to arrest the absconding accused Ravi Panda Chand, said to be from Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

In India, each state has the autonomy to enact its laws on gambling. The only states to legalise gambling so far are Goa and Sikkim.

Modus operandi

The cops said that the bookies used to operate via weblinks, which they provided to known punters and their close friends.

“Chand used to create a user ID and password, with which users could bet on multiple games after paying a subscription fee,” said the police.

The transactions would be done digitally, through multiple applications, including Paytm, Google Pay, and PhonePe.

“Chand used to provide new bank account numbers to his associates every week, which were registered in different cities so that he could evade the attention of the police. On weekends, they used to calculate their profits and losses,” the cops said.

The police booked the accused under Sections 3 and 4 (punishment for public gaming) of the Public Gaming Act of 1867.

In a similar case, the Saroor Nagar police on 7 September arrested two people for allegedly running an online cricket betting racket, and seized goods worth ₹20.5 lakh.

Status of online gaming unclear in India

In India, gambling is regulated by the Public Gaming Act of 1867, which prohibits public gambling.

However, there is no mention of online gambling in the 19th-century law, and it is, therefore, not legally prohibited.

In recent times, states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka attempted to legally ban online gambling and betting.

However, in both cases, the ban was revoked by the respective states’ high courts, which called the ban unconstitutional as it violated  Article 19 (1)(g) of the Indian Constitution.

The article states that people have the right to practise any profession or carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

Telangana in 2017 became the first state to completely ban online betting after amending the law and implementing the Telangana Gambling Act.

Earlier this year, the Tamil Nadu government appointed a committee led by former Madras High Court Justice K Chandru to study the adverse impacts of games like online rummy in the state.

The panel recommended that the state “bring in a legislation for a total ban on online card games, including the game of rummy, immediately”.