Online gambling is one industry that gained popularity due to internet availability. As per the latest statistics, India has 1.1 billion people (79 per cent of the population) with access to mobile phones and 624 million (42 per cent of the population) with access to the Internet. It is said 92.8 percent of them play games online be it on (a) smartphone (b) laptop (c) Gaming Console, (d) Tablets (e) Hand-Held Device (f) Media Streaming Devices and (g) Virtual Reality Headsets
Is betting legal in India?
Based on the Public Gambling Act of 1867, all forms of gambling are illegal in India. This means that placing bets on your favourite game or a player (both online and offline) is illegal and not allowed.
In order to understand the legality, we need to understand more about two types of games where betting is done.
(a) Game of chance: These are luck-based games, these types of games are illegal in India. Prior knowledge or understanding is not required to bet for these games.
(b) Game of skill: These are games that require analytical decision-making, logical thinking, physical ability rather than a choice, these types of games are legal in a few States of India.
Although it’s illegal in India, they take the clever route of hosting an online website and alternatively get licenses from (a) Curacai Gaming – From the Caribbean (b) Malta Gaming Authority – From the Mediterranean (c) UK Gambling Commission – From United Kingdom. They hardly spend around €25,000 to obtain licenses from these countries and this information is written in small text size, usually in the footer, claiming these can be played only in listed countries.
Recently uncovered online gambling fraud
As per End Now Foundation research, it is estimated that over 3,800 people have lost money via illegal apps like Lucky Ark. VIP Club is an online betting platform to place bets, and you can perform betting as an individual or alternatively use the Lucky Ark application, which uses VIP Club to place bets on our behalf, for a commission of 40% share on daily profit.
Modus operandi of ‘Lucky Ark App’
Step 01- Firstly, you can join via a reference only.
Step 02- You will be added to a Telegram group, their admins are females with British names and have foreign people’s photos as display pictures and operate using UK phone numbers. Tutors are usually rude and text-like bots.
Step 03- You are supposed to pay 40% of your daily profit as a commission as Lucky Ark placed bets on our behalf.
Step 04- Introduce a new person called subordinate to avoid transferring commission.
Step 05 – Every referral would earn Rs.3000 per person after 5 days from the date of joining.
Step 06 – In case there are 03 referrals on the same day, they would give an extra Rs.5000 along with Rs.3000 per head after 5 days of joining.
Step 07 – We can make the first withdrawal after 7-10 days, only after Rs 10,000 has been invested in the bet.
Step 08 – Once eligible for withdrawal the amount would be credited to our bank account in 6-8 hours.
Step 09 – There would be high stakes day once in 20-30 days where we need add more money to have the balance of Rs 10,000 in the account at all times.
Step 10 – On such days profits are high, usually Rs 800 per day, on high stakes days, it crosses Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000.
Step 11 – They mentally prepare people to keep investing for more profits, then they would create a super high stake in a day, where people are supposed to invest more than Rs 50,000 to avoid losses due to insufficient balance.
Step 12 – Even if people were able to maintain balances they were not allowed to withdraw as their newly invested amount hasn’t participated in the bet.
Step 13 – Now when they see many people losing money, to gain trust they offer a compensation plan, where investing more money to recover losses.
Step 14 – Place bet mid-night where everyone is sleeping and by the time people wake up, there is nothing left. The bet goes on till the last person loses all the money and made sure no one has any money left in any of the wallets.
Step 15- Close payment/recharge platform, cancel withdrawal mechanism, they then close Telegram group, Tutors don’t respond.
The legal status of gambling in India in 2021 requires more deliberations to come out with a comprehensive new legal framework (gambling act) that suites current trends.
Apple and Google have excluded ‘From Respective States of India’ in the list of places where gambling apps are not allowed and these apps can download only from websites (via APK and DMZ Files) and not from the App Store or Play Store. Victims can approach the Economic Offences Wing of the police.
Stay Tuned to Cyber Talk to know more on internet ethics and digital wellness brought to you by Anil Rachamalla, End Now Foundation, www.endnowfoundation.org