Cricket legend Kapil Dev inaugurated the country’s first online sports betting centre at MG Road in Sikkim’s capital city on Thursday evening.
However, Dev refused to place the first bet on one of the ongoing football games despite repeated requests from the organisers – the Golden Gaming International Private Limited – because he was “not a betting person”.
Sikkim, the only state in the country to legalise online sports betting, has provided three companies with licences to set up establishments for the purpose.
Manoj Sethi, director of the Golden Gaming International Pvt Ltd, said, “The Sikkim venture is the first such initiative in the country, and we hope that other states also follow our unique model and legalise online sports betting too.”
Tourists visiting the state from West Bengal are the company’s primary target market.
The state government has issued the licences to Golden Gaming International Private Limited and two other companies on the condition that betting activities be permitted within the state only through an intranet connection.
The online gaming and betting activities were launched as per legislations passed by the state government under the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act 2008. The Union home ministry, in April 2014, permitted the Sikkim government to regulate online betting activities as long as other states and Union territories in the country were not affected.
Sikkim has the most liberal online gaming laws in the country. The state government has allowed casinos in two hotels, besides online and paper lotteries. The first online lottery in Sikkim was launched in 2001.
A 39-year-old man from Madhya Pradesh recently hanged himself from a tree near Parliament after he lost crores of rupees on the Indian Premier League and other cricket matches, bringing sports betting back into the spotlight.