AIGF Pushes for Ban of Unlicensed Foreign Operators in India

India may be taking a step towards consolidation of its local market while ostracizing outsiders. A new suggestion has come from the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), appealing to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to limit all payments coming from foreign companies.

India’s Gambling Industry Goes After Competitors

On Friday, November 16, local newspapers have reported that the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has reached out to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for the enactment of a piece of legislation known as Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED will effectively seek to shield the local industry from the slew of international operators who are catering to Indian gamers and diverting traffic from local companies.

The AIGF has been quite intransigent in passing judgment, too, with famous names such as bet365 on the list of wrongdoers, according to the organization. The AIGF has said that the likes of the aforementioned company were purposefully “luring and accepting bets from Indian citizens” leading to a life of addiction and of course, reckless gambling.

Not only were the unlicensed international operators causing gambling harm, but were they also in violation of the established legal norms, the AIGF continued in its letter. Even though the stance against gambling has been toughening up in India and Asia in general, some places, including the State of Sikkim, have sought to legalize the activity.

In Sikkim, it’s legal to practice online gambling, but only if you visit a special betting shop earmarked for the purpose and use the terminals available on-site. While the AIGF wants to completely limit the clout of foreign operators, Sikkim has seen an opportunity to offer a product that is in high demand and could potentially lead to jump in the numbers of tourists.

Meanwhile, AIGF’s argument continued to draw on the basis of the law, arguing that apart from not being authorized, any gambling conducted in India by a foreign operator was also in direct violation of the so-called Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

This is true and more difficult to argue, as operators are happy to accept payment in multiple currencies and through an extensive network of e-wallets and alternative payment solutions all throughout India without exercising proper control. This, in turn, can actually lead to money laundering.

While making one cogent argument after another, the AIGF got slightly carried away, saying that if international operators continued to run their activities on the territory of India, they would de facto constitute a national threat to the entire country. The AIGF specifically cited fears that gambling money could effectively be funding illegal operations, such as terrorism.

The AIGF is also not without plans. Earlier this year, the organization prepared a report and delivered it to the government, outlining the possible legalization of the gambling sector, and pushing for the introduction of Indian licensing of gambling venues backed by the country alone.

However, Mr. Modi’s government is far from entertaining the idea of legalizing any form of gambling or betting, as it remains a divisive issue and well at the fringes of political debate in India.

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