Jay Sayta would be graduating in the 2015 batch of NUJS, Kolkata. In his words he is just like ‘like any other normal student who likes sports, movies and music’, but to the contrary and most amazingly he is already considered as an authority in gambling laws in India.
In his 2nd year of law school he bought the domain glaws.in and had started researching and writing on gambling related issues from then on. Quickly enough, his work and enthusiasm in this niche area of law got noticed by the media and from then on he continues to receive a lot of audience. The readers of his blog who are bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, lawyers, corporate professionals, etc. regularly write to him for his opinion on gambling laws. He is currently planning to join Luthra&Luthra after graduation, and in the near future he plans to publish a commentary on Gambling Laws in India.
In this interview you will get to learn how he started off with a simple passion to write on gambling laws and how he grew up to become an authority in it.
How would you introduce yourself? Could you please share a little bit of what motivated you to pursue law as a career?
I am a fifth year law student at NUJS Kolkata interested in gaming, commercial and public policy. I love reading and writing on legal issues as well as general socio-political issues. Apart from that, I would say that I am like any other normal student who likes sports, movies and music.
As for why I decided to pursue law, I was always thrilled by courtroom dramas in movies and John Grisham novels. Another reason is also that my elder brother is a lawyer from NLS Bangalore (and now a corporate lawyer in London) and watching him make a career in corporate law and exploring opportunities across the globe inspired me to pursue law. Since I belong to a family of business persons or professionals, it was natural to pursue a career option which gave a chance to pursue social sciences, public policy(which I was always interested in) and commerce.
Given that a significant number of our readers are law school students; would you please tell us a little about your experience so far at NUJS?
I have had a fantastic experience at NUJS so far. It is one of the most chilled out and laid back colleges but yet gives you an opportunity to pursue your passion and ideas. I have got an opportunity to interact with many prominent personalities from various spheres such as politics, social service, journalism, bureaucracy, judiciary etc. Apart from that I have been fortunate to have learnt law from some top academics and fine teachers.
NUJS is one law school which gives you the option of deciding which career path you wish to pursue and has all kinds of students- you could either decide to study hard, participate in moots, debates and other extra-curricular activities or pursue your own entrepreneurial goals or just sit back, chill and enjoy college! I decided to do a bit of everything and tried my hand at mooting, debating, writing research articles and also enjoying college life.
Do tell us about the kind of internships that you did while in law school. Did you work on gambling laws while at your internships?
Due to my instincts in business and commerce which come naturally because of my family background, I decided to pursue corporate law. However I have tried my hand at different types of organisations from an NGO to a litigating lawyer to a start-up.
In my first year I interned with Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) Mumbai and it was a fascinating experience to understand the basic functioning of trial courts (especially criminal courts) and understand problems faced by poor litigants. After that, I interned with Kian Ganz at Legally India to get a taste of legal journalism as I always enjoyed writing. I learnt the basics of legal research and writing, how to look for interesting stories and got really interesting insights on the way law firms function and make deals.
After my first year, I largely focused on interning at law firms, apart from one internship with a Senior Counsel. I worked with various firms such as Nishith Desai Associates, JyotiSagar Associates, Khaitan& Co etc. on different matters mainly in corporate law, securities law, cyber law etc. I have done some gambling law related work in my law firm internships but that has not really been my focus since my main purpose of doing internships was to learn as many new areas of law as possible.
You’ve been cited as an expert on gaming and betting laws by many newspapers in the media. Please tell us as to how did you develop an interest in this niche area of law?
In my first year at NUJS, I used to play a bit of poker and other games on the internet (mainly on social media). I was curious to know about the laws applicable to gambling and why gambling is an activity which is viewed as illegal and frowned upon in society. I did a basic internet search and could not find much information.
Thus I did a bit of my own research and approached Ramanuj Mukherjee, one of my seniors on whether I should write a research paper on the subject.
Ramanuj suggested that it is best to continue working on the area and start my own website. Once I started my website and wrote a couple of posts, I started receiving comments and mails from lot of persons asking for my opinion on various aspects as there was a dearth of information online. This resulted in me digging for more information and even today I try reading more about the subject and every day learn something new.
Have you published research papers on gambling laws? Do you foresee yourself writing a book?
I have plans to write a commentary on Gambling, Betting and Lottery laws in India. I have given the idea some thought and already started work on it. However for various reasons I have not been able to find much time to complete the research and manuscript. Hopefully I will be able to find the time and focus on this to write a book soon.
You founded the widely known website named glaws.in while you were in your 1styear of law school. How did you come up with this idea? Tell us a little about this website.
Like I said earlier, the idea of starting glaws.in came since I was curious to know about gambling laws and could not find enough material online. Once I started writing, I got more ideas and never left the zest to know more about the subject. Perhaps it is because I am fascinated by the subject. The gambling instinct in human beings never fails to marvel me and hence I have continued to write for four years.
What is it like to maintain a website that exclusively deals with gambling laws in India? Please tell us about the reach of your website. Who comprise your target audience and readers?
Gambling laws is an obscure area which people like to wish away. However there is considerable interest in gambling specially in a country like India which loves cricket (and betting on it comes as a logical extension) and entertainment/thrills. Thus, there are enough number of people who would like to know the legality of gambling and betting, updates about what is happening in the gaming industry as well as a forum to urge the government to change its current policy to prohibit gambling and bring reforms in the current archaic set of gambling laws. Glaws.in is thus meant for any average reader of ordinary intelligence to know and understand the issue of gambling in India holistically and be abreast with legal developments. I avoid complicating issues and try to write in such a manner that all readers can understand legal developments.
Having said that, glaws.in is closely followed by journalists, bureaucrats, businessmen, entrepreneurs, lawyers, law firms, politicians and students and I try to ensure that they have to look only at one place for any new developments or updates in the field of gaming law.
Has anyone approached you for advice on gambling law? Please tell us about it.
Of course during the course of the past four years, there have been several entrepreneurs, businessmen, law firms/lawyers, journalists etc. who want to know more about the subject and have been unable to find enough information. I always try to interact with as many readers as possible and know their perspective and share my inputs as well. I believe that it is only on exchanging information and views that one is able to improve and develop one’s thoughts.
Thus, I have helped various persons associated with the gaming industry formally and informally and in fact provided ideas to some of them, which has helped them build legally sustainable business models. .
How do you research for the content on your website? From where do you get the topics to write on?
I try to read news and updates about the subject through the internet and media. Apart from that, I also go through academic and business journals on the subject, books, commentaries etc. However apart from these traditional sources of information I believe it is imperative to communicate with as many people as possible and interact with readers. On many occasions, readers have supplied me with exclusive documents and information which no journalist or lawyer has, only because I have a rapport with my most people in the gaming industry and have helped them with their legal issues. The most important thing however is to have a zest for more information and keep digging for more. It is important to not have the feeling that one knows everything that is out there to be learnt.
What I know about gaming in India is probably only a fraction of the total information available. I try to be inquisitive and never be satisfied despite doing research for the past four years.
What are your future plans? Do you wish to get inducted into a law firm or work with a litigator in this niche area of law?
I have received an offer from Luthra&Luthra Law offices and would be joining the firm after college. I will try to learn more about corporate law and build a career as a law firm lawyer. However, gaming law will always be my passion and hopefully, I will be able to continue reading, writing and learning about it even after college.
It must have been a great experience starting up with glaws.in and taking it to a level of authority. Please share with us any memorable experience you had with glaws in all these years.
There have been quite a few memorable experiences for me. The fact that top legal luminaries, gaming company executives, journalists etc. have contacted me and appreciated my work has kept me going. However the invitation by FICCI to be a panelist at ICE Totally Gaming India Seminar (ICE is the world’s largest gaming exhibition held in London every year) was one of my most memorable experiences. It was truly wonderful to speak at a global forum such as ICE and interact with top gaming executives, policy makers, entrepreneurs and lawyers.
Another fond memory which pleasantly surprised me is an email from a Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry who invited me to share my views on an ongoing matter in the Supreme Court on games of skill and rummy. It was a great experience to visit the Home Ministry office and present my thoughts to top government officials.
As a concluding message, what would be your suggestions to law students?
My suggestion to law students would be to pursue their passion and not think in a straitjacketed manner. It is important to think innovatively and follow one’s dream as ultimately that will be the only thing which will give you satisfaction.
There is no one way to pursue a good career in law and there are various avenues available for budding law students. It would not be correct to say that one will only succeed if one gets excellent grades or wins moots and debates or publishes a dozen papers. Law is one field which gives so many diverse opportunities and it is up to the students to choose any path. However, it is important to be focused, dedicated and show a desire to continue learning.