Read our latest 2021 guide on Indian Gambling Laws that strives to make things more lucid and clarify the nuances of the gaming scenario in India! Read on and learn all things about legal online gambling in India.
Is Online Gambling Legal in India 2021?
Commentators have frequently agreed that the real-money gaming landscape in India is embroiled in legal obscurity with no all-binding Central governmental laws offering well-structured legal recommendations about such activities.
The main law legislating gambling in India happens to be the Public Gambling Act of 1867 ( also known as the Public Gaming Act, 1867). Under this paper, as it may be evident, all forms of physical gambling (which takes place on physical premises), especially on games of chance is prohibited with no unified system of licensing procedure at the Central Governmental level.
It’s common logic, gauging from the time it was enacted on, this particular document does not mention anything about online betting as the Internet was non-existent then. However, it must be noted that while some states closely follow this law, and the Legality of Online Gambling in India remains dwindling in vagueness, different parts of the country have exercised their power of formulating and supervising laws on gaming and betting-related operation, in accordance with the recommendations of the Constitution of India.
Now the question that might come to your mind after reading all this is this: is online gambling legal in India?
Look, whether online gaming in India is legal or not is a complex inquiry to pursue because in most cases, various states differ in their gambling provisions. It’s not an easy answer. We, Gambling Geeks, love some challenge and have come to your rescue. So don’t let the complexity get to you because our latest 2021 guide on Indian Gambling Laws strives to make things more lucid and clarify the nuances of the gaming scenario in India!
Read on and learn all things about legal online gambling in India!
India Gaming Market Overview
According to the February 2020 report prepared by Maple Capital Advisors, the Indian Gaming industry is currently valued at 885 million USD, and is expected to grow at a rate of 41.6% as a result of more engagement with digital infrastructure.
It is true that with the sloppy legal framework in India, gambling is somewhat a controversial issue with many online casinos not accepting Indian currency or even players from Indian origin at times.
However, despite this legal hassle it would be wrong to assume that online gaming especially iGaming in India is somewhat a stunted affair in the country when in reality it has only grown in recent times with more exposure to mobile-based casino games.
Coronavirus Impact on Gaming in India
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge globally confining millions of people to their homes. The world turned to online platforms for their work, education, and entertainment.
In light of such developments, increased online gaming operators have been observed in India, like in several parts of the world. As we prepare to recover from this pandemic – one thing is certain – the popularity of online betting and other forms of gaming entertainment will keep growing and thus policy-makers should start conceiving frameworks which will regulate the occurrence of such performance.
According to The Lottery Laws of 1988, regions have to abide by certain terms and conditions while organizing, conducting, or promoting lottery competitions. They have the power of designating individuals or organizations as functional “distributors” or commercial “selling agents” who will on their behalf market lotteries. Please note, however, Section 29A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) bans the practice of private lotteries. However, some lands such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, etc. have exercised their jurisdictional powers and repealed this legislation in their territories to permit the organization of non-profit lotteries but ban all other forms of private lotteries.
- Horse Racing
Section 4 of the Public Gambling Act and Section 30 of the Indian Contract Act provide legal backing on Horse Race wagering. Moreover, in accordance with several rulings of the Supreme Court, Horse racing has been codified as a “game of skill”. In line with such judgments, several provinces have permitted betting on horse racing with special regulatory measures. For instance, in some states, there are designated physical premises and days where and when betting can be conducted on these races. COVID-19 has put a serious curb on public gatherings and Turf Clubs such as the Bangalore Turf Club and Kolkata Turf Club in Karnataka and Kolkata respectively have been open to online betting with specific recommendations on horse racing.
- Prize competitions
In several regions, competitions organized to win prizes (either monetary or a special offering) are common and are awarded only after obtaining a legal permit. Not every prize competition is labeled as gambling. So please be careful while participating in a prize competition and inquire into the nature of the event.
- Sports betting
In most Indian states, sports betting is considered to be illegal activity as that has led to brutal forms of corruption. However, sports betting such as betting on sports events such as horse racing is acceptable under central law regulations and even many region-specific laws.
- Games of Skill
“Games of skill” as a phrase in the context of this discussion of gambling laws has been used to describe events that involve the skilled action of players – it isn’t a very random phenomenon but requires proper familiarity and engagement.
- Games of Chance
In the legal discourse, the phrase “Games of Chance” refers to games involving a certain degree of randomness/unpredictability, and the bettor bets on the possible result or outcome of the game event.
Current Betting and Gambling Laws in India
The Public Gambling Act, 1867
This is central legislation you should definitely know as you explore the gambling scene in the Indian context. This Act prevents the operation of playing for real cash, more specifically betting on “games of chance” in physical spaces. As this document was enforced at a time when online spaces were non-existent, there are no specific recommendations around it. However, the Constitution of India grants the lands of the Indian territory to formulate their own laws when it comes to playing at hazard.
Payment and Settlement Act, 2007
An important weapon in your games arsenal is your payment mode. A lot of Indian players resort to e-wallets and similar payment systems for iGaming transactions. The Payment and Settlement Set, 2007 gains its relevance in this scheme and regulates payments through such pre-paid instruments of monetary transaction. Certain payment operations have to seek the approval of the Reserve Bank of India before it can be functional and more precisely, safe to use.
The Information Technology Act, 2000
This legislation is an important tenet to consider while dealing with online betting. It’s main directive involves directing intermediate authorities to restrict and sometimes even remove access to any content that is unlawful and encourages money laundering or playing at hazard. The authorities may act within 36 hours of receiving a report and can this way ensure the prohibition of illegal online activities that can result in financial losses. However, just like the Public Gambling Act, it doesn’t have specific recommendations for online games.
States Regulating Gambling and Betting in India
Gambling Regulation in Assam
According to the Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970, it is illegal to bet on “games of chance” and even engage in the process of collating monetary stakes. It is even an illegal practice to conduct ventures requiring people to play games of skill for money.
Gambling Regulation in Maharashtra
There are two gaming enactments which have to be considered when talking about such activities in the state of Maharashtra – the Lotteries Act of 1998 and the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. According to the Bombay Prevention Act, the operation of casinos is strictly prohibited, disallowing the existence of casinos in Maharashtra. However, betting on horse racing is allowed. The Lotteries Act regulates operations of lotteries in the territory.
Gambling Regulation in Goa
Gambling activities in Goa are regulated by the Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. By this legislation, real-money games are allowed in certain luxurious five-star and seven-star hotels, and off-shore vessels. This document allows all forms of online wagering activities but is managed by strict protocols laid out by the Gaming Commissioner appointed under this Act. They are also bound to pay fixed license fees annually.
Gambling Regulation in Daman and Diu
Like in Goa, real-money games in Daman and Diu are also regulated by the Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. The rules are similar and gambling takes place in several five-star hotels both onshore and on off-shore vessels.
Gambling Regulation in Karnataka
In the state of Karnataka, according to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, all games (defined as “games of chance”) are punishable offenses except betting on horse racing. Moreover, unlike several states, Karnataka has provisions of granting permission for conducting non-profit lotteries.
Gambling Regulation in Orissa
Orissa strictly prohibits any kind of sports betting as per the Orissa Prevention of Gambling Act, 1965. Furthermore, this act also prevents the very activity of applying monetary stakes in any form on unpredictable events or games.
Gambling Regulation in Sikkim
Sikkim in light of the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2009 allows regulated iGaming activities. However, the Act alludes to terminologies such as “intranet gaming terminals” which imply these activities are made available through gaming parlors with “intranet gaming terminals” within the State of Sikkim. These gaming parlors are allowed to only offer games to people above 18 years of age, and the computer systems in use in this process should be certified by the regional governmental authorities.
Gambling Regulation in Tamil Nadu
Local legislations namely Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930 and Tamil Nadu City Police Gaming Rules, 1949 revoke almost all gaming activities in the State. However, as horse racing and Rummy have been ruled as “games of skill” by Supreme Court judgments, the state aligns itself with such rulings and has provisions for allowing gambling on these activities.
Gambling Regulation in Andhra Pradesh
The Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974 and Andhra Pradesh Gaming Rules, 1976 govern
gambling activities in Andhra Pradesh. These legislations allow betting on Horse Racing, Lottery, Rummy, and even Poker. The region regulations also allow the operation of casino-related activities in certain selected locations.
Gambling Regulation in Delhi
In Delhi, the legislative regulations that govern gambling activities in this territory happen to the gaming enactment called Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955. This legal norm doesn’t permit public gambling but also doesn’t place a ban on physical and Internet games of chance. It also allows games that involve monetary stakes as part of it.
Gambling Regulation in Jammu and Kashmir
The J&K Public Gambling Act of 1977 regulates the activities in Jammu and Kashmir. This legal framework is a bit elusive when it comes to clarifying the particularities of which activities are legal in this region but as sports analysts agree, they have prominently legalized gambling on Horse racing and games such as Rummy.
Gambling Regulation in Kerala
Gambling practices in Kerala are carefully scrutinized by the Kerala Gambling Act, 1960 which allows activities such as online casino games, Horse race betting, lottery, etc.
Gambling Regulation in Meghalaya
The Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act, 1970 disallows all forms of gambling except on Lotteries and Arrow competitions.
Gambling Regulation in Pondicherry
The Pondicherry Gaming Act, 1965 allows popular gambling activities such as betting on horse racing; rummy; lotteries. There are several hotels in this region that host casino and related games.
Gambling Regulation in Rajasthan
As State legislations such as the Rajasthan Public Gambling Ordinance, 1949 elaborates, all forms of gambling activities are considered to be unlawful in Rajasthan. However, it is worth mentioning that illegal gambling in some form or the other has been witnessed in several parts of the state.
Gambling Regulation in West Bengal
The two legislations that primarily govern gambling activities in Bengal are namely:
- West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competitions Act, 1957
- West Bengal Gambling Rules, 1958
These specific legislation allow for a more focused re-assessment of what constitutes cash games activities. For instance, the local government of West Bengal under the West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competitions Act, 1957 has excluded poker, rummy, a bridge from the ambit of gambling activities, recognizing it as a game of skill. Moreover, like several provinces, lotteries and betting on horse racing are the only forms of gambling which are allowed, banning almost all sorts of sports gambling.
The land also follows a cogent licensing scheme that allows an operator to apply for a permit to either the Commissioner of Police or the District Magistrate/ sub-Divisional Magistrate ( depending on your location in the state) to host ‘games of skill’ in a public space. However, please remember that these permits are issued only for specific events. As several legal scholars have attested, the duration of such permits can be as short as twenty-four hours implying that they are only valid on the gaming day.
Gambling Regulation in Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh Public Gambling Act, 1961 strictly bans all forms of cash games but betting on horse racing is exempt from such norms. However, Uttar Pradesh is infamous for illegal gambling.
Legal Online Gambling in India
Undoubtedly, many of you might find yourself overwhelmed by the variety of information we’ve provided on betting and gambling laws in India. However, before desiring to be a good gambler, you should choose to be a responsible one and know the legal discourse that surrounds such activity.
When you’re choosing an online casino, especially in the Indian scenario, remember these rules:
- Check specific regulations: Refer to the gaming enactments that apply to your gaming location.
- Licensing Information: Check the licensing information of the online casino you are choosing. Several online casinos are hosted abroad and are well regulated by internationally-recognized commissions such as the Gambling Commission, International Betting Integrity Association, etc. You’ll find such information on the main page of the online platform in most cases. This assures a well-regulated and safe gambling experience.
- Payment and user convenience: Also check, whether they accept Indian players and what payment modes are available. Ask yourself: Am I comfortable with this mode of payment? Can I afford this? Will I be able to pay using Indian Rupees? Am I having to say too much about processing fees? Also, check the Customer support facilities on the website. It’s always good to know that you have some help to fall back upon.
Gambling Geeks have a carefully curated list of online casinos that are friendly with gamblers of Indian origin. So, please check it out in case you feel lost! It’ll give you a head start on legal online gambling in India!
We’ve put together a reliable and comprehensive guide on online gambling law in India 2021 covering important legislative regulations, types of gambling, and all that we think is necessary! Knowing your rules, strategy, and territory is always crucial during the war – we believe that’s applicable during gambling too!
So, we hope you find this guide useful and make responsible gaming choices! However, please reach out for help in case you find yourself addicted to betting.