Indian authorities have taken action against 22 betting apps and websites that were found to be operating illegally. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has not disclosed the full list of operators that have been blocked, but it has confirmed that Mahadev Book and Reddyannaprestopro are among those facing blocking orders.
The enforcement directorate (ED) conducted investigations into these illegal betting apps, leading to raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, where unlawful operations were uncovered. These investigations also led to the arrest of several individuals, including Bhim Singh Yadav, who is currently employed by the Chhattisgarh police and was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, as well as Electronics and Information Technology, stated that the Chhattisgarh government could have recommended shutting down these websites and apps, but since it did not, MeitY has intervened.
The blocking orders come after India introduced a new tax rate for online gambling. Licensed operators are now required to pay a flat 28% turnover tax for online gambling, casino, and horse betting. This new tax rate was announced by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council in India and is applied to the full face value of bets, making it a turnover-based tax.
As a result of the new tax rate, the operator Betway’s parent company, Super Group, withdrew from the India market. This new tax rate is the second major change to India’s online gambling market in 2023. In January, the Indian government published a set of rules to regulate online gambling, stating that any online games offered must not violate any existing laws.
The government also proposed the establishment of self-regulatory bodies, comprising online gaming businesses, to create rules addressing addiction, preventing financial crime, safeguarding children, and protecting players from harm. These new regulations and the increased tax rate indicate that India is taking significant steps to clamp down on illegal and unregulated online gambling activities.