The Right to Gambling and Online Paid Skilled Gaming

Source; profootballspot.com

Source; profootballspot.com

It is always a bad idea to invite the government into the areas of the internet where it is absent to prevent the abuse of regulation. However, avenues that are already eliminated by the government with decades-old theocratic legislation require a corrective intervention. Online gambling and skilled gaming are one such area.

If you are a fan of fantasy sports or are even fond of gambling your hard earned income every now and then, you would have a hard time pursuing such recreational activities in Pakistan. At least at a legal concern or on the internet, unless it happens to be a government sanctioned prize bond scheme or a race course.

Currently, The Prevention of Gambling Act 1977 governs and prohibits such activities in Pakistan with various penalties. The provincial versions of the law were enacted in 1978, while The Public Gambling Act of 1867 under the British law, which it was largely based on, was repealed in Islamabad and Punjab later.

Now there is a good reason why online gambling is banned in many countries. Gambling can be highly addictive and could expose citizens’ capital to great risk of loss.

Nevertheless, despite the risks and dangers involved, it is better to leave it to the citizens to decide about their morals and the disposal of their savings. The best trade-off between freedom and order remains in softening of the Gambling Act to decriminalize and legalize such activity.

There is no doubt that the government should protect citizens from fraudulent practices, eliminate money laundering and prevent organized crime to dominate such activities. This is why legalization of such activities not only offers safe and legal channels for citizens for such recreation due to regulation, but could also help generate considerable public revenue.

Just like every other “moral” issue in Pakistan, you cannot help but notice that the ban on gambling is not without its due share of contradictions, or even hypocrisy. Without going into the embarrassing reasons why, most of us are aware that horse racing is legally protected in Pakistan. Let’s just say that our bureaucracy and feudal class would always make an exception for their lifestyles.

However, thanks to the outdated laws governing anything remotely close to gambling within the boundaries of Pakistan, citizens indulging in the vice are not safe from harassment from the state. This also impacts the online space as betting websites would not open their operations to Pakistan, or even if they do, making transparent financial transactions to such entities would only land you in legal trouble.

Normally, I would hardly advocate the action of legislators as a much needed solution, but repealing is as much their job as enacting new laws. Especially in this case, when the laws in place are such terrible sweeping bans that take away the breathing space from the citizens. If law enforcement authorities were to target civilians, they would even charge citizens under the suspicion of gambling on the possession of dice and cards under the current draconian laws. Countries such as the United Kingdom have modernized their local gambling laws to provide for online gambling. It is about time the rest of the world followed suit.

Prohibiting gambling is one thing, since it is so evil. The taboo against it even sweeps skilled gaming involving financial transactions under the label. Even state attorneys in the United States are insisting on it in the wake of the latest controversies pertaining to insider trading among leading fantasy sports companies. However, bans in states such as New York sound more like prohibiting trading of a commodity due to an instance of financial fraud.

Any sports fan remotely familiar with the activity would know that fantasy sports, while dependent on actual results, rewards calculated risks and the knowledge of the sport. Fans not being able to participate in such paid skilled gaming due to local gambling bans is simply unfortunate.

Pakistani fans, like those in the rest of the civilized world, should be no exceptions when it comes to online skilled gaming. While local fans may not be enthusiastic about NFL or MBL odds, they sure take a keen interest in EPL and cricket related leagues. With the advent of Pakistan Super League, Pakistani cricket fans would be missing a legal means to put their money on their favorite franchises.

The bottom line is that there is no reason why an adult Pakistani should not have access to gambling and skilled gaming, online or offline, whenever they want to entertain themselves. The access to gambling and paid skilled gaming could possibly be considered as a right to the citizens, and when done responsibly can really prove to be a joyful activity.

We have a choice of being blindly morally uptight as usual, or actually make it safer and legal for the citizens to enjoy paid skilled gaming, if not gambling.

A version of the post was published in The Nation blogs.

Jamshed Dasti, Parliament Lodges, Mujra and Alcohol

Source: Geo.tv/The News

Recently, Jamshed Dasti, an independent MP, has revealed to the nation that the tenants of the Parliament Lodges often hold Mujras and drinking sessions while speaking on the House floor. Dasti even vowed that he can produce video evidence if any MP attempts to refute his claims.

Later, the former PPP populist MP even produced empty liquor bottles on a TV talk show that he claimed he retrieved from the Parliament Lodges. He has even called for medical tests of the MPs to help determine the culprits.

Though it is hilarious that the Pakistani TV channel on which he appeared blurred the liquor bottles on screen. Why? Are those bottles that hard to watch?

I am not too sure if this is the greatest issue that our nation is facing. Personally, I find little problem with it, unless it is violating Parliament regulations and laws. But it surely does break one law, which is the main point behind it.

I can see only one reason to respect Jamshed Dasti’s complaint. And it’s a big one.

No act should be permitted for the Members of the Parliament should which is prohibited for any other citizen of Pakistan. Because, after all, they are citizens as well.

Therefore, they must not be allowed to consume alcoholic beverages.

This warrants an investigation, as the Speaker of the House has reluctantly called for. Whereas, the Interior Minister has completely ruled out the possibility of a Mujra or a dance party.

By law, holding a Mujra party, or inviting a female dancer over to your place, is not prohibited. For now. Unless the police changes their mind. Any citizen can do that for entertainment.

But what a citizen cannot do is buy and consume liquor, except through bootleggers. Which rules out the legal consumption of the commodity.

This is not a question of morality. It is a question of law.

Some could argue that the prohibition of Alcohol that materialized in the late 1970s is an infringement on the personal liberties and the fundamental rights of the people.

Even though the Pakistani Constitution does provide for the fundamental rights for the citizen, it also faces the dichotomy of accounting for the Shariah and Islamic tradition. The problem is you can hardly protect individual liberties if you are accounting for Shariah at the same time.

Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman complained about the moral policing on the MPs in a statement that I loved. But sadly, he is a proponent of Shariah himself and it is partly due to people like him that these acts are even considered crimes. While I hate to say this, his political position in this case arguably amounts to hypocrisy.

But then again, passing moral judgments about our MPs is not my prime interest here. I would leave that to our clerics and leftists.

But with Dasti’s complaints, our lawmakers are having a taste of their own medicine. This is how it feels when someone interferes in your private affairs. Even though they are holding public offices and should be up for greater scrutiny.

But will they ever learn?

If our MPs are so fond of drinking, a choice that I very much respect, they should call for a vote to legalize liquor and marijuana.

Let the people choose too.