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Legal Matters | Ban on activities deemed undesirable is lazy legislation. Governments must do better

Banning, as has been seen repeatedly in the past, will only take an activity underground — often leaving victims unprotected 

November 11, 2021 / 05:55 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

In the 2020-21 season, 10 out of the 20 football clubs in the English Premier League (EPL) were sponsored by a gambling/betting company. This same year, Dream11, a fantasy gaming company, became the title sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL), arguably the hottest cricketing property. MPL, another such company, sponsors the Kolkata Knight Riders, while WazirX, a cryptocurrency exchange, sponsored the recent India-Sri Lanka cricket series.

For nascent business-models, the exposure helps. CoinSwitch Kuber, another cryptocurrency platform, claims that its subscriber base grew 3.5x after its IPL ad-blitz.

The government, of course, would have none of that. Over the past year, several states, such as Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, have banned online gaming, imposing huge penalties; so much so that Dream11 chose to geo-fence its product so that a person in Karnataka could not legally access it. In Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court overturned the ban, while the Karnataka ban is currently under challenge at the Karnataka High Court.

The benefits and harms of both cryptocurrencies and gambling, to name just a few ‘vices’, ought to be debated. But a more pertinent question is: Is the government’s all-or-nothing approach — wherein it imposes an outright ban on something it deems undesirable, an acceptable, or even appropriate, solution?