The Betting Vices of India
From the hassle-free pumping of real money into online gaming circles like rummy and PUBG to the traditional cockfighting still prevalent on the fringes in rural settlements, betting in India has several regional, cultural, traditional, and legal connotations. The domain of betting is diverse and interspersed. Thus it largely remains unmapped, with no homogeneity in terms of legality. Although certain explicit areas of chronic betting have been identified and banned or regulated formally, more than half of sixty million dollar worth of annual wealth generation of the industry can be traced back to illegal sources.
The nuances of the persistence of the appeal of betting in the Indian society, rural and urban, need to be addressed considering its traditional roots and its accessibility, given the wide reach of internet connectivity. On the one hand, it is difficult to isolate the common consciousness of people who associate betting with festivals, mythology, and cultural history. On the other, easy access to the vast unregulated abyss of internet-only perpetuates the practice.
Here is TheVibe’s peek into various forms of betting prevalent in India and the rational sustaining them:
°Online Casinos/ Gaming Dens
With large populace now wired to Internet, betting online comes muffled in unsolicited ads inviting you join rummy circles which promise easy money. Since internet is relatively a new sphere which does not neatly fall in the ambit of legal apparatus, a lot remains open to interpretation and challenged at every step. Technically, there exists no explicit legislature that classifies online betting as illegal.
With a precedence of the custom of traditional card games played on Diwali, it becomes supremely easy for the online adaptations of games like Rummy and Teen Patti to carve a niche for themselves. With minimal expenditure in term of logistics, online gambling does not require an elaborate physical set up and lures audiences from multiple age groups.
Since times immemorial, fighting or racing beasts have occupied public spheres like markets and outdoors to provide for entertainment and a spectacle for leisure. Hindu Mythology dates back gambling as far back as 2000 BC.The many manifestations of animal betting are- bull fighting in Rural Tamil Nadu, cock fighting, greyhound racing in certain regions North India and horse racing which is hailed as a status symbol in a postcolonial society.
States like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have legalised horse race betting which has semiotic association with status and lavishness. However, multiple other regional animal betting continue to be highly unregulated. For instance, Jallikatu, the culturally embedded visual for audiences from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh has been legally reinvigorated after being banned at a point in time. It involves bulls raised specially for the occasion. Ahead of the seasonal festival of Sankranti , a bet of around Rs 1000 crores was estimated to be put in the venture.
With IPL season here, a conversation on the infamous match fixing and plethora of platforms that support the same cannot be dismissed. Considering the fantasy sports platforms like Dream11 existing and Virat Kohli literally telling you to go subscribe to it, it is hard to believe that the same principle when talked of officially does not gain legal support.
You do not have to hunt for bookies or shady bars to place your bets, betting has been made accessible to an extent that India engages in the same from the ease of their couches. Not only does this ruin the fabric of a society for capitalist benefits but diminishes the spirit of a sport that made home in the heart of a plethora of people. Teer Gambling is a modern day betting space that exists in a symbiotic relationship with the skill infested sport of archery. With over 1500 Teer counter, and a full-fledged Bookie Welfare Association the archery clubs of Shillong generate huge capital out of this industry.
The Casino culture finds legal harness in three provincial units in India, namely Goa, Daman and Sikkim. With two casinos in Sikkim and ten in Goa including the voguish- Casino Deltin Royale, Casino Pride and Casino Mahjong. These land based and floating casinos entice tourist from within and from outside the subcontinent.
The legitimacy and legality of multiple hot spots in these states have been challenged and yet the grey spaces within the construction of the Public Gambling Act of 1867 allow for the accommodation of many. The Vegas Casino culture finds a replica in these states, particularly in Goa and continues to thrive in muffles and whispers and bling lights of jackpots.
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