Online Gambling

Online casinos

There are a large number of online casinos, in which people can play casino games such as Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, and many others. These games are played against the “house”, which makes money due to the fact that the odds are slightly in its favour. Some unscrupulous sites have been proven to offer rigged games, which are less mathematically fair than they appear.

Online poker

There are a large number of online poker rooms which offer various games of Poker, most commonly Texas hold ‘em, but also Omaha, Seven-card stud, and other game types. Players play against each other, with the “house” making its money through the “rake”.

Online sports betting

Several major bookmakers offer fixed-odds gambling over the internet, with gamblers typically betting on the results of sporting events.
A relatively new internet innovation is the bet exchange, which allows individuals to place bets with each other (with the “house” taking a small commission).

Funds Transfers

Typically, gamblers upload funds to the online gambling company, make bets or play the games that it offers, and then cash out any winnings. European gamblers can often fund gambling accounts by credit card or debit card, and cash out winnings directly back to the card.
Because of the questionable legality of online gambling in the United States, however, U.S. credit cards frequently fail to be accepted. However, a number of intermediary companies – such as Firepay, Neteller, and Moneybookers – offer accounts with which (among other things) online gambling can be funded. Casino operators and online poker rooms often offer incentives for using these ‘alternative payment methods’.
Payment by cheque and wire transfer is also common.

General legal issues

Online gambling is legal and regulated in many countries including the United Kingdom and several nations in and around the Caribbean Sea.
The United States Federal Appeals Courts has ruled that the Federal Wire Act prohibits electronic transmission of information for sports betting across state lines. There is no law prohibiting gambling of any other kind.
Some states have specific laws against online gambling of any kind. Also, owning an online gaming operation without proper licensing would be illegal, and no states are currently granting online gaming licenses.
The government of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which licenses Internet gambling entities, made a complaint to the World Trade Organization about the U.S. government’s actions to impede online gaming.

The Caribbean country won the preliminary ruling but WTO’s appeals body has partially reversed that favorable ruling in April, 2005. The appeals decision effectively allowed state laws prohibiting gambling in Louisiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Utah. However, the appeals panel also ruled that the United States may be violating global trade rules because its laws regulating horse-racing bets were not applied equitably to foreign and domestic online betting companies. The panel also held that certain online gambling restrictions imposed under US federal laws were inconsistent with the trade body’s GATS services agreement.

In March 2003, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm testified before the Senate Banking Committee regarding the special problems presented by online gambling. A major concern of the United States Department of Justice is online money laundering. The anonymous nature of the Internet and the use of encryption make it especially difficult to trace online money laundering transactions.

In April 2004 Google and Yahoo!, the internet’s two largest search engines, announced that they were removing online gambling advertising from their sites. The move followed a United States Department of Justice announcement that, in what some say is a contradiction of the Appeals Court ruling, the Wire Act relating to telephone betting applies to all forms of Internet gambling, and that any advertising of such gambling “may” be deemed as aiding and abetting. Critics of the Justice Department’s move say that it has no legal basis for pressuring companies to remove advertisements and that the advertisements are protected by the First Amendment. As of April 2005, Yahoo! has provided advertising for “play money” online gaming.

In February 2005 the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize and regulate online poker and online poker cardroom operators in the State. Testifying before the State Senate, the CEO of one online cardroom, Paradise Poker, pledged to relocate to the state if the bill became law. However, the measure was defeated by the State Senate in March 2005. Jim Kasper, the Representative who sponsored the bill, plans a 2006 ballot initiative on the topic.

Problem gambling

Because the internet brings gambling right into a player’s home, there is concern that online gambling increases the level of problem gambling. In the United States, the link between availability and problem gambling was investigated in 1999 by the National Gambling Impact Study, which found that “the presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers”. If this finding is correct, it is reasonable to expect that easy access to gambling online would also increase problem gambling.

That same report noted the possibility that “the high-speed instant gratification of Internet games and the high level of privacy they offer may exacerbate problem and pathological gambling”. Bernie Horn, of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, testified before Congress that the availability of online gambling “magnifies the potential destructiveness of the addiction”.

The Indian Home Textile Industry Is Gaining Global Foothold

Two decades back, stylish interiors or beautiful indoors were in minds of only a few homeowners. Most of the houses had limited stock of bed linen and bedsheets, which were washed and reused again and again. Home textiles and furnishings were majorly seen in the market during festivals only.

Now, thanks to the increasing number of households, growth of Indian retailing, rising disposable incomes, growth of the housing, hospitality and healthcare sectors along with mounting consumerism, we are witnessing a change in Indian middle-class lifestyle. People now, especially the young working couples, spend a considerable amount on interiors to give a trendy and modern look to their homes. All these factors have increased the demand for home textile products by 30-40% per annum.

Further, with e-commerce giants adding home segments to their websites, home furnishings and textiles have become even more appealing to the public. Be it cut-length curtains or readymade home textile items, the whole process of shopping has become hassle-free. A growing demand for high-quality home furnishings on e-commerce websites from around the world can be seen clearly.

India, in particular, is a home to some of the biggest home textile manufacturers including the likes of Welspun (3rd largest towel producer), Dicitex (5th largest furnishing fabrics producer) and Trident (largest terry towel manufacturer). Additionally, several Indian brands such as Spread, Birla Century, Super Net, ABN, etc. are renowned globally and growing at a healthy pace. Even some of the international brands, such as UCB, Espirit Home and many others, have witnessed a growth rate of 20-30% in the Indian home textile market.

The home textile industry in India is varied in terms of pricing, colours, design and even consumers. There are some who prefer international brands with no constraint on price while there are consumers who look for high volume at reasonable prices. Today, a consumer is becoming highly aware of the environment, safety and hygiene and thus, the demand for features like stain-resistant, fragrance, flame retardant in home textiles has gone exponentially high.

In 2014, India’s share in global home textiles was 11% that suggested a strong potential to grow. Indian textile companies get some favourable advantages in the rising global market. These include the huge availability of low-cost cotton, cheap labour, promising Government policies and the current trend of depreciation of Indian Rupee vis-à-vis foreign currency. All these factors have supported the potential of Indian textile players to reach great heights in the segment.

Mayank Mohindra is an author on apparel, fashion and textile industry. His articles are based on latest apparel industry news, textile news and/or analysis of the dynamics of global apparel trade, and fashion industry.

Online Gambling

Internet Casinos Inc. (ICI), the world’s first online casino, started operating from August 18, 1995, with 18 different games. Since then more than 1,400 websites, mostly domiciled in small Caribbean islands, have given rise to an industry that grosses over $3 billion a year. In fact no business on the Internet earns more revenue than online gambling. Out of the estimated 14.5 million online gamblers, almost 30 per cent are from Asia.

A bet can be placed in minutes. Anyone with a credit card can set up an offshore currency account with a gambling site, leaving them free to place bets on sporting events like Wimbledon, cricket, horse racing and Formula One, or join a virtual casino to play slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker etc. Companies like Flutter and Betmart accept bets on anything from who is going to win the Nobel Prize to whether Madonna is getting a divorce or not. Bets can range from a nickel to thousands of dollars and according to whether you win or lose the amount is automatically adjusted to your account. The final balance can then either be mailed to you or left for future bets.

The law relating to online gambling in India needs to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. At the outset, gambling, although not absolutely prohibited in India, does not receive express encouragement by policy makers. The Indian organized gambling industry is estimated to be worth around US$8 billion. While stringent laws have checked the proliferation of casinos and high street gaming centres as in many other countries, barring the state of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular form of gambling.

Though gambling is not illegal, it is a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal as well as the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, this implies that the state governments have the authority to enact laws in order to regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the entire country. Different states have different laws governing gambling in addition to the laws that have an application across the country. While some states have banned lotteries, other states allow state government lotteries marketed and distributed in other lottery playing and promoting states through private entities.

Regulation of gambling

The courts have defined gambling as ‘the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize’. The dominant element of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game may be deemed to be gambling if the element of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. As a result, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games are not gambling. The right to undertake the business of gambling and lotteries is not considered as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be pointed out that the state government run lotteries make significant contributions to the state exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and hence there is a resistance to complete prohibition.

The following legislation is pertinent to gambling:

The Public Gaming Act, 1867

This Act provides punishment for public gambling and for keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. This Act also authorises the state governments to enact laws to regulate public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have been amended in accordance with their policy on gambling. However, this legislation does not have any direct impact on online gambling unless a wide interpretation is given to the definition of common gaming house so as to include virtual forums as well.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA)

The ICA is a codified umbrella legislation that governs all commercial contracts in India. Under the ICA, a wagering contract is the one which cannot be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements by way of wager are void, and no suit shall be brought for recovering anything alleged to be won on any wager or entrusted to any person to abide by the result of any game or other uncertain event on which any wager is made’. Gambling, lottery and prize games have held to be wagering contracts and thus void and unenforceable. While a wagering contract is not illegal, it cannot be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts will not entertain any cause of action that arises out of a wagering contract.

Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998

This Act provides a framework for organizing lotteries in the country. Under this Act, the state governments have been authorized to promote as well as prohibit lotteries within their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also provides for the manner in which the lotteries are to be conducted and prescribes punishment in case of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by the state have been made an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Several non-lottery playing states, like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, have prohibited the sale of other state-government lotteries under this Act.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 294A deals with keeping lottery office. It says that whoever keeps any office or place for the purpose of drawing any lottery not being a State lottery or a lottery authorised by the State Government, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

And whoever publishes any proposal to pay any sum, or to deliver any goods, or to do or forbear doing anything for the benefit of any person, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees.

Internet gambling

The law related to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are considered to be wagering contracts and it is not possible to enforce such contracts under the ICA, detailed above.

As pointed out earlier, the online lottery is the most popular form of internet gambling in India. Most companies marketing and distributing or conducting state government-sponsored lotteries through the internet are not allowed to sell their services in the states that banned lotteries. In most cases, these marketers and distributors limit their online services to consumers who are residents of the states where a lottery is permissible. Notwithstanding the fact there has been no reported case of breach by any company promoting online lotteries, most of these companies (as a safeguard) seek an undertaking from their consumers relating to their residence.

There have been instances where one state has banned the lottery of other states, including online lotteries. In a recent case, the Karnatka High Court upheld the decision of the Karnataka government to make itself a ‘lottery free zone’ by imposing a ban on lotteries of all other states, including online lotteries under the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998. The state government, in this case, directed the closure of the terminals and kiosks selling the online lotteries.

Enforcement over foreign jurisdictions

If the websites are hosted and operated from outside India, it may be difficult for the Indian authorities to issue any directive to close them down or prohibit their access without using its blocking powers under the ITA. The authorities have little to worry about, as Indian foreign exchange laws do not permit remittances outside India for gambling related activity, such as the purchase of lottery tickets, football pools and sweepstakes. As a result, a gambling website hosted outside India aiming at receiving money from within India cannot do so through legal channels.

Conclusion

Online gambling remains a highly regulated sector with seemingly limited horizons to grow. While the present regulatory framework makes it difficult for offshore gambling websites to target customers in India, the India-based companies can only distribute and market state-government lotteries online in permitted territories. The pervasive authority with the government to block gambling related websites and the impossibility of enforcing gambling-related contracts further discourage the prospects for the industry.