Created after the Public Gambling Act of 1867, this Act provided the Parliament of India to control and regulate prize competitions. Beforehand, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bombay, Uttar Pradesh, Madras, Hyderabad, and East of Punjab created their own legislation to govern prize competitions. Once the national Prize Competition Act of 1955 passed, some of the states we mentioned earlier were quick to adopt the new central law. To date, the Act has been adopted by certain states while others continue to regulate prize competitions using their own state laws such as the state of West Bengal. It is key to understand central India gambling legislation and the state-level variations of each law.
How the Act Affects Gaming in India
The Act controls and regulates prize competitions within India. Prize competitions are any puzzle based gaming where individuals must solve blanks in words, numbers, or letters. This Act requires prize competition promoters to obtain proper licensing and prohibits prizes and entries exceeding a set amount. All prize competitions offered in any month must not exceed totals of Rs 1000 and will not allow for prize competitions that receive entries in excess of 2,000. The Prize Competition Act of 1955 also requires promoters to obtain and retain the account information of players participating in the competition and submit said accounts to licensing authorities. Other regulations enable police officers to enter and search the premise where prize competitions are held to see if promoters are following the requirements of the Act. While the Act was designed to mitigate puzzle-based gambling many interpreted the law to encompass all forms of games which involve prizes.
Original Intent of Creation
Prize competitions were heavily unregulated before the creation of this Act and some speculate that the construction of said Act was to curb the indirect control local governments had over the conduct of prize competitions. The Prize Competition Act allowed for the central organization and regulation of prize competitions; however, due to the option states contain to utilize the federal enactment or their own state regulations, regulations tend to differ per jurisdiction. The Act also allowed for the power to cancel or suspend licenses while maintaining records of promoters and active licenses within states under the Prize Competition Act of 1955.
Why the Act Needs Updating
The rise of illicit gaming gives evidence to holes in the Prize Competition Act of 1955. Not only that, the lack of national enforcement allows certain states to do as they please. While prize competition acts may differ per region, all generally align with the federally instated law. However, spotty jurisdictions do not retain the same authority as a ‘federal’ application would. Uniform regulations would discontinue much of the issues that are being faced by individual states and require less judicial hearings. Many, advocate for the continuation of the differing state laws as they allow players in more progressive states to maintain their advantage while permitting states with no interest in the subject to be left alone. However, the language of the Act will soon face many challenges as prize competitions are being held online through TV’s, newspapers, and game shows. Some worry that this law includes any form of gaming, specifically slots, with a prize involved as the language does not clearly state otherwise and could be interpreted as such.
What is a Prize Competition?
Any puzzle based on solving, building up, arranging, or combining letters, numbers, words, or figures in order to receive a monetary prize or other prize. These can include but are not limited to:
- Crossword Prize Competitions
- Missing-word Prize Competitions
- Picture Prize Competitions
Prize competitions have exploded on a national scale as newspapers, tv shows, and online platforms are providing legal avenues for players to participate in prize competitions.
What If Someone Wants to Offer a Prize Exceeding Rs 1000?
Individuals within India wanting to offer a prize over Rs 1000 a month must obtain a special license from a governing agency or licensee, or risk violating national Indian gambling laws. Without this special license, violators can face heavy penalties, fines, and even jail-time.
Who is This Act Aimed Toward?
This Act was originally aimed toward operators and promoters of prize competitions. However, with the dawn of a new age corporations, newspapers, publishers, and tv shows have been included in the list of targets for this Act. Some are concerned whether the Act includes all forms of gaming which can affect online operators, however, the laws pertaining to gambling in India are subjected to state-based gambling and do not touch on licensed and legal India gambling sites.