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India government orders blocking of 22 betting websites

| By Robert Fletcher
Indian authorities have issued blocking orders against 22 betting apps and websites it says have been operating illegally.
India blocking illegal

Full details of those operators blocked by ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) were not disclosed. However, MeitY confirms that both Mahadev Book and Reddyannaprestopro face blocking orders.

MeitY says it is taking action following investigations by the enforcement directorate (ED) against illegal betting app syndicate. The ED also carried out several raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, with these revealing unlawful operations.

The investigations have led to the arrest of several individuals. These include Bhim Singh Yadav, who currently works for the Chhattisgarh police. Yadav was arrested under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship as well as electronics and information technology in India, says the local Chhattisgarh government itself could have recommended shutting websites and apps down. However, since it did not do so, MeitY has now stepped in.

“Chhattisgarh government had all the power to recommend shutting down of websites and apps under Sec 69A IT Act,” Chandrasekhar said. “However, they did not do so and no such request is made by the state government while they have been investigating it for last 18 month. 

“In fact, the first and only request has been received from ED and it has been acted upon. Nothing prevented Chhattisgarh government from making similar requests.”

India online betting tax increased to 28%

The blocking orders comes just over a month after India introduce a new online gambling tax rate.

As of 1 October, licensed operators must pay a flat 28% turnover tax for online gambling, casino and horse betting. The rate was announced by the Goods and Council Tax Council (GST) in India in July

Tax is being applied to the full-face value of a bet, rather than gross gaming revenue (GGR). This makes it a turnover-based tax. 

For online gambling, tax is applied to the full value of all bets placed with operators. With land-based casinos, tax is applicable on the face value of the chips purchased at each venue. 

Horse racing differs again, with tax applied on the full value of bets placed with bookmakers and totalisators.

Upon the new rate being introduced, Betway operator Super Group withdrew from the India market in response.

India clamping down with new regulations

The new tax rate was the second major change to India’s online gambling market in 2023. 

Back in January, the India government also published a new set of rules to regulate online gambling. These state that any online game offered must not be in violation of any existing laws. 

Proposals were also put forward for self-regulatory bodies, comprising online gaming businesses and being responsible for creating rules. Focus areas include protecting players against harm, addressing addiction, preventing financial crime and safeguarding children. 

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