Gambling and all allied activities are largely prohibited in India. Apart from gambling, buying lotteries and betting on race horses, major gambling activities are both socially frowned upon and legally prohibited. Goa and Sikkim are exceptions, as these are the two states that house and run legally permitted casinos. Following the lead of these two states, a few years ago Haryana had broken out into a heated debate about legalising casinos and gambling. At the time, however, the state administration's efforts at gauging public sentiments remained inconclusive. With a change in the political scenario, the current government has let the matter remain unresolved.
In a state such as Haryana, gambling is rampant and is a public menace. The establishments undertaking or allowing gambling are often involved in other nefarious activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution, and smuggling. Alcohol abuse and gambling often go hand in hand, causing much damage to the health, wealth, and property of the residents of Haryana.
Currently, incidences related to gambling in the state of Haryana are being dealt with under the provisions and regulations of the Public Gaming Act of 1867. The act was formulated and enacted by the British Administration in India. This testifies to the outdatedness and the lack of relevance of the act. The current government has left the issue of gambling in Haryana largely untouched. Haryana is in urgent need of socially-relevant legislation that deals with the issue of gambling. While horse racing and lotteries are not banned, other forms of gambling are prohibited in the state. In the days of booming technology, laws and safeguards to prevent internet users from gambling at online casinos are sadly absent. Cyber security in the state needs to be beefed up if this is to be curbed. Gaming and gambling online are still grey areas that require definitions and regulations.
Gambling on festive days in the name of tradition is another major challenge that the law enforcement teams of the state have to contend with. Each year a number of gamblers are arrested on festive days such as on Diwali. The state administration needs to undertake a mass awareness campaign highlighting the social evils that are associated with gambling. In the days of high-profile sports, illegal betting is both common and lucrative. The law enforcement department of the state is ill-equipped to deal with major betting rackets in Haryana. Apart from proper training programmes, the state needs comprehensive laws that protect the masses and punish the perpetrators.
The government must necessarily undertake a sentiment analysis program and study the relative pros and cons of legitimised sports betting and regulated gambling in the state. This may also provide a huge boost to tourism and the state's economy. Failing this, the state will need to launch a grassroot level programme to weed out gambling at the village level in rural tracts and the cities of our state. The partnership and involvement of NGOs and village panchayats in effecting this must not be ruled out.