India continues to be a hotbed of controversy and confusion regarding all things cryptocurrency. The country has historically served as one of the most anti-cryptocurrency regions in the world, having put an outright ban on banks having any relationship with cryptocurrency exchanges earlier this month. However, a report released today by the Law Commission of India (LCI) titled “Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including Cricket in India”, calls for a re-examination of the legality of sports betting, and suggests that cryptocurrency might serve as a viable alternative to cash for online wagers.
“The recommendation made by the committee that betting should be legalized by law, involves the enactment of a Law which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the Government for such actions as it may consider necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case.” reads and excerpt from the report.
“[We recommend] Gambling transactions should be made cashless, making use of electronic means of payment such as credit cards, debit cards, net-banking, virtual currencies (VC, or cryptocurrency), etc.”
From an outsider’s perspective, India’s strict laws against gambling and cryptocurrency appear archaic and damaging to the Indian economy. The Indian government is reportedly in dire need of additional revenue, and Indian law appears to be doing very little to deter its citizens from so-called illicit activity. Indeed, the bans on gambling and cryptocurrency seem only to have created growing underground markets, hidden from the all-seeing eye of a big-brother government.
“Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option,” said Tusha Joshi, a representative at TRA Law—a legal firm that works with several cryptocurrency exchanges. “The law commission recommends that regulating gambling is preferable to an outright ban. This is the same argument we are making in context of cryptocurrencies.”
The Indian government’s longstanding opposition to sports betting reached a peak in 2013, when scandalous news surfaced that matches in the Indian Premier League cricket tournament had been fixed. Following the news, numerous high-profile arrests were made which included athletes responsible for colluding with bookies.
As previously stated, both the underground gambling and cryptocurrency communities are continuing to grow despite government crackdowns. There has since been tremendous public outcry in India over the bans, including a petition that quickly gained over 22,000 signatures to reverse India’s ban on cryptocurrency. However, there is no indication from Indian lawmakers that any repeal of the cryptocurrency ban is in sight.
Cryptocurrency expert and public figure John McAfee has been one of the loudest voices calling for liberation in India, stating earlier this month,
“The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiated this atrocity out of fear and won through the existing centralized power structure. I’m calling for a boycott of any financial institution that does business with RBI. We must stand together and act.”
Correction: Headline has been changed from “LCI Calls for Indian Government to Recognize Cryptocurrencies as a Legal Means for Electronic Payments” to indicate that the LCI did not explicitly call the Indian government to legalize cryptocurrencies.
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