Tightening The Reins: Indian Government Blocks Over 550 Illegal Betting and Gambling Apps
The Indian government has blocked over 581 applications, including 174 betting and gambling apps, as disclosed by the Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary. The announcement was made during a parliamentary session in early December, in accordance with the IT rules of 2000, under Section 69A.
Among the prohibited platforms operating illicitly in India were notable websites including Betwaysatta, Fairplay, 1XBET and Dafabet. Currently, some of these platforms are still under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Regularization and having a good legal framework is not enough. This is why the government needed to intervene when it was discovered that there were so many illicit operators providing online gambling platforms.
However, for players seeking reassurance and looking for avenues where tried and tested sites are available, this frequently updated listing by NoDepositTracker will certainly come in handy.
Lack of Action
This news comes after the government took action against 22 illegal betting apps and websites following investigations by the ED into an illicit betting app syndicate, along with subsequent raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh. The investigative agency had claimed at that time that the Mahadev online betting app operated from Dubai and generated a monthly revenue of Rs 450 crore by facilitating illegal bets through a range of online applications.
Even though the Chhattisgarh Government had the power to propose the closure, under Section 69A of the IT Act, they did not exercise this power. This prompted Chaudhary to publish a strongly critical post on X, accusing CM Bhupesh Baghel of inaction, particularly significant as he was facing an election in December.
However, as of this week, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch marked its first arrest. On Thursday, Dixit Kothari, a resident of Mira Road, was apprehended by the SIT. According to reports, Kothari is accused of creating an ID that facilitated the purchase of the domain name for the betting app.
Furthermore, he allegedly maintained the betting site and paid fees for a couple of years. It is also claimed that he was in contact with various bookies and punters, selling apps for betting operations. These apps, along with online betting activities, were purportedly part of the overarching operations conducted under the Mahadev online betting network, as per police sources.
The most recent prohibitions were also prompted by an order from the ED. In February, the government had previously imposed restrictions on 138 illegal betting and gaming websites, although some continued their operations. According to reports, in July, the government amended and notified the IGST Act, mandating all offshore gaming companies to register in India. This amendment also empowers the central government to block unregistered websites violating the laws.
In October, The Economic Times reported the discovery of 114 illegal betting and gambling platforms operating in India through domain farming. These platforms were accepting payments through Unified Payments Interface (UPI) using proxy bank accounts, and the funds accumulated in these proxy accounts were subsequently funnelled through hawala, crypto, and other unlawful channels.
This issue was subsequently emphasized in a presentation to the Revenue Department in December by domestic online gaming companies. These companies detailed the modus operandi through which numerous offshore betting and gambling platforms were managing to operate unlawfully in India. In response to a recent Lok Sabha question, the Minister of State informed the parliament that no offshore companies have registered since October 1st.
A recent study conducted by Ken Research on online gambling consumer behaviour in India has brought to light persistent issues in the country’s gaming landscape, including identity theft and transaction complications. The report highlights that the diverse cultural and legal landscape in India presents challenges, given the varying regulations across different states, ranging from outright prohibition to regulated practices. This diversity occasionally confuses both operators and users. Additionally, the study reveals that only a small percentage of online gamblers have a comprehensive understanding of industry regulations, making them susceptible to potential risks associated with unregulated operators.