Gambling Banner Ads at Eden Gardens

During the India vs West Indies Test at Eden Gardens, there was much said about some of the advertising that took place at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. While gambling is illegal in most parts of India, it is not in Sri Lanka, and there were banner advertisements of two casinos in Sri Lanka. The two adverts for the Columbia-based casinos became an important talking point during the cricket match.

Before the advertisements were put up at Eden Gardens, the Cricket Association of Bengal had been granted approval for all the advertisements that were going to be going up at the cricket grounds. Biswarup Dey, the Cricket Association of Bengal’s treasurer, said: “We took prior approval of the authorities concerned, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, which collects tax for the advertisements.”

While the banner adverts certainly kicked up a storm when they were first seen, there has been little discussed regarding the casino advertisements after the initial surprise that was displayed. According to Sujoy Chakraborty, a Kolkata High Court advocate, since the banner ads only showed the names of the casinos, and did not have any other information, they are not considered to be illegal. Although some believe this to simply be a loophole, others do not.

Chakraborty said: “There was nothing in the ads which suggested any invitation to the public for gambling. So they are not illegal.”

Indian law does not prevent the use of the word casino, and since there was no actual invitation to gamble, the advertisements were allowed. It is, however, prohibited to invite people to place bets. Ushanath Banerjee, a respected lawyer, said: “Since casinos offer other entertainment services besides a platform for gambling, one can use the word casino without any problem. But when you indicate gambling, then there is an issue.”

While the Public Gambling Act, 1987 has declared gambling to be illegal in India, the states of Sikkim and Goa have granted some casino licenses.