Jay Sayta is a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) graduate from W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) Kolkata. He runs http://glaws.in India’s first and only website monitoring gambling, betting and lottery laws. Jay has researched and written extensively on gambling and betting laws for various online & offline publications and academic journals like The Statesman, Scroll, The Wire, Swarajya, Asia Gaming Brief, he currently serves as advisor to SPiCE 2019.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the gambling sector in India in terms of legislation and regulation at the moment?
Jay: The problem is that there is hardly any regulation on gambling or betting at the moment. Gambling/betting being a state subject, the prerogative is with the state governments on how they chose to legislate on the issue.
Recently, the Law Commission of India has come out with its report which states that while banning gambling and betting might be desirable, in practical terms it may be prudent to consider a strict regulatory framework at the central level. It remains to be seen whether the government acts upon the recommendations of the Law Commission.
You will also be speaking on the panel discussion titled “Gambling and betting in sports legalisation in India – Will Elections 2019 change the regulatory scenario?”. Should the federal government regulate sports betting?
Jay: There is definitely merit in the argument that the federal government should look at regulating sports betting given the massive revenue and tax potential and employment opportunities in the sector. However, the real question is whether the government will indeed take steps in that direction. As of now, the current government has shown little interest in the gaming sector, however, post the general elections in 2019 this could change.
What are the latest products that are becoming increasingly popular in India?
Jay: Since gambling and betting is largely banned in India, operators are using the exemption provided to games of skill and offering various kind of online games like poker, rummy, fantasy sports, quizzes and other prediction contests etc. under the real money skill gaming category.
What is the current state of responsible gaming practices in India, what is missing in the area and your advice on proposal for changes?
Jay: Right now, precious little is being done in terms of responsible gaming by the existing operators. However, if the operators want to ensure that the industry opens up and grows in the long term, there is no option but to ensure that various responsible gaming measures are adopted.
Certain self-regulatory bodies are bringing about some guidelines to be followed by online operators in the online fantasy sports, rummy and poker space. However, since these guidelines are optional and not much can be done if a company refuses to comply with them, it is important that certain consumer centric regulations are brought in by the government to protect the players.
How is the global gaming industry responding to the liberalisation of gambling regulations in and the growth in demand from India?
Jay: Undoubtedly, there is massive interest from international operators who are very eager to do something in India due to the sheer size of the market. However, the international operators need to be patient as any change takes a lot of time in India, especially something as complex and controversial as sports betting and gaming.
What do you look forward to by being a part of SPiCE 2019?
Jay: SPiCE 2019 will be a great opportunity to meet various stakeholders in the gaming and betting industry under one platform. I am looking forward to hear the diverse views of experts on the path ahead for the Indian gaming industry.