The government in the second biggest state in India (in terms of area) Madhya Pradesh needs to make a decision on whether to legalize online gambling or to ban it completely.
The online gambling market in India was growing at a rapid pace prior to the COVID-19 lockdown but skyrocketed during the lockdown.
Anti-gambling opponents in Madhya Pradesh have been concerned with the increase in gambling related incidents which involve young people getting into debt and increase suicides that have links to gambling addiction.
During the last 12 months, there have been multiple public interest litigation (PILs) filed in numerous states.
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh which are two big states in South India decided to ban online gambling activities after PILs were filed against the disturbing rise in online gambling activities.
The Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh High Courts gave their respective state governments the option to legalize online gambling or ban it completely. The governments in both states decided that it was in the best interests of their constituents to ban online gambling and impose criminal consequences for anyone engaged in gambling related activities.
Gambling opponents in Madhya Pradesh have taken a cue from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and have filed a PIL in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The ruling from the court was similar to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The court asked the state government to review the matter and make a decision on whether they wanted to legalize gambling or ban it completely.
State Government Wants Time Till April 2021
The High Court asked the state government to share its views on online gambling but the lawyers representing the government requested for more time to discuss the matter in detail before submitting their stance. The court has granted the state government time till the first week of April 2021, to present their views on the matter.
Given the fact that the Madhya Pradesh government did not immediately agree to ban online gambling, it is a positive sign that they might be seriously debating the pros and cons of legalization.
Madhya Pradesh might shun the stance of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and instead adopt the views of Karnataka and Kerala who decided that they would look to legalize and regulate online gambling. We will have to wait for a couple more months to see what Madhya Pradesh decides.