Chhattisgarh Bans Games of Chance with Swift Moves

05 Jan 2023

Bill Prohibits Betting and Wagering in Person and Online

The Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly has adopted the Chattisgarh Gambling (Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which seeks to prohibit gambling, betting, and wagering in person and online for financial gains but exempts lotteries.

A voice vote was used to pass the new legislation on January 4, only five days after the draft of the Bill was approved by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s cabinet at a government meeting held on December 31 last year.

State Home Minister Tamradhwaj Sahu tabled the draft in the LA and said that according to the statement of objectives of the Bill, “it is the duty of the state government to ensure social economic security for each and every citizen.”

The Chattisgarh Gambling (Prohibition) Bill criminalizes deeds such as participating in or organizing gambling in public places or online, as well as advertising gambling or providing one’s bank account or digital wallet for gambling purposes against profit.

The penalties under the new law reach imprisonment for three years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh for first-time offenses and seven years, and Rs 10 lakh for subsequent offenses.

The Mahadev Sports Betting App

Chhattisgarh’s new gambling prohibition comes as a reaction to the massive spread of the notorious Mahadev sports betting app and the authorities’ efforts to crack it down, including arrests of more than 250 people.

The app has been downloaded more than 4 million times, and the betting schemes involve cash transactions, an excess of 50 company and 10,000 personal bank accounts, and communications via digital messengers like WhatsApp and Signal.

This puts Chhattisgarh in a different position from states like Tamil Nadu, which find the biggest online gambling danger coming from Rummy and other games that are usually recognized as skill-based and legitimate and are therefore leading prolonged judicial battles over the constitutional validity of banning such games.

According to tweets from gaming and tech lawyer Jay Sayta, the new Bill “applies only to games of chance. Games of skill (poker, rummy, fantasy sports etc exempt, a key demand of industry.”