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Source: Nov 21, Business Standard
The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) recently took an initiative to understand the regulatory framework of governing gaming, casinos and betting in Sikkim, which has the most liberal laws for the gaming and betting industry.
Gaming, betting and lotteries contribute heavily to the development of the hilly and mountainous state of Sikkim, which otherwise is not blessed with a geographical terrain suitable for agriculture and manufacturing activities by stimulating the local economy.
Gambling plays a major role in the state and in addition to bringing an economic stabilization, it also brings in huge revenues to the institutions that run it and opens employment to a large section of the society.
It also involved understanding the benefits accruing to the state in terms of revenues and employment generation due to the gaming industry as well as how the model implemented by the Sikkim government can be emulated by other states.
The AIGF organised a study tour and a robust discussion on the model created by the Sikkim government, International best practices and how other governments can learn from this unique policy framework.
In the light of the whole country getting impacted by demonetisation, the panel discussion also involved a detailed discussion on how it is impacting Gaming Industry and why it is taken as a welcome step to eradicate black money from the industry.
“Demonetisation has greatly impacted all the industries, gaming being no exception, but it is still too early to analyse long term implications of the decision . In any case, regulating gaming activities in any country is the best way to protect the integrity of the sport, protect the punter, give back to community, and provide proper tools to the relevant authorities to fight against underground activities”, mentioned Roland Landers, CEO, AIGF.
He further added, “In 2009, Sikkim became the first state to offer manually-operated casinos on land. In Goa, casinos are stationed offshore and they pay over Rs 150 crore in taxes to the government. The number of tourists went up from 4-5 lakh to 12 lakh once casinos came up. The numbers are expected to be doubled, though the state aims to get 50 lakh tourists a year.”
PariMutuelUrbain (PMU), one of the world’s leading mutual betting operators in the field of Horse racing have put in place an interesting approach where they contribute significantly to fund the horse racing sector.
Catherine Chauvin, Area Manager Exports for PMU who was in Sikkim for the event mentioned, “The social impact on the Horse industry in France has been intense where 1 horse creates 1.8 jobs & 4% of agricultural land is dedicated to horse breeding. We wish to share our experience with the sector here, so India can equally get benefitted by adapting the favourable approach.”
According to a report by KPMG, in 2010, the estimated betting market in India was worth 60 billion dollars. This included the unregulated and illegal betting and gambling in the country as well. Further, there are opinions that suggest that legalizing betting with respect to sports like cricket could prove to be beneficial, not only to the economy, but also to regulate the illegal betting and match-fixing industry. The same could also be said for other areas where gambling and betting is possible.
India’s gambling industry is huge and it is high time that a policy decision be taken by the government, which conclusively establishes the status of gambling in India. FICCI has estimated around 19,000 crore from betting if it is legalised in India.
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