Is It Legal To Play Online Casinos & Bet On Sports In India?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. There is immense perceptions regarding online gambling in India. However, nobody wants to violate the law despite it being seemingly vague. More so, you MUST have a clear understanding of federal legislatures stipulating how you should wager online.
India has a considerable population that enjoys betting on sports such as cricket, horse racing, among other games. Nevertheless, the ills and impacts of gambling can have detrimental effects on the moral of gamers if overlooked. And suppose you consider that a majority of Indians struggle to get necessities and lack the needful awareness relating to playing online casinos, in that case, everyone needs to know what is right and what is not.
That is so since there is a fragile line between what gamers can play and what they can’t. Gambling laws have been a subject of extensive debate for many years in India due to the legislation at federal and state levels.
Fortunately, we want to help you understand the legality of playing online casinos and bet on sports in India. In this writing, we want to look at what the Indian federal gambling laws state.
Note, we aren’t advocates and the information on this write-up is out of pure online research. We, therefore, advise you to talk to a lawyer in case you need more clarification on the gambling laws in India. So, without wasting time, roll up your sleeves and put on your learning hat in readiness to learn.
The history of federal gambling laws in India
Gambling has been in existence for over 1000 years. Back in the days, gaming was an unregulated activity in India. People from small villages to those in big towns played and wagered in traditional popular games such as Teen Patti and Andar Bahar freely.
After the coming in of the British colonialists into India, they decided to impose gaming ethics and laws upon the Indian locals. The British rulers enacted the first gambling law in the mid-1800s, which later became the Public Gambling Act of 1867. That law outlawed gambling of whatever nature altogether. It also prohibited acts that intend to help or facilitate gambling.
To date, the British law is still active, with little to no amendments to it. It is again operational in most parts of India except those that have come up with local gambling regulations. States that still use the Public Gambling Act of 1867 include Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, among others.
Nevertheless, the law states that it is illegal to own or operate a gambling venue within India. It again prohibits visiting gaming houses of whatever nature within the country.
The good news is that the Public Gambling Act of 1869 does not make any mention of online casino gambling in India. That is an indication that modern casino gaming lacks a clear legal framework in place. This makes it extremely hard to determine whether betting on a game like golf or cricket is the same as wagering on the card, wheel, or dice gameplays.
The current gambling status in India currently despite gambling laws
Notably, no strict laws are prohibiting online casinos and bookmakers from operating in the Indian gaming market. It is the mandate of each state to decide and regulate online gambling. Currently, some states allow online casinos, while others prohibit their operations entirely. But again, there are government officials who advocate for legal, yet regulated online gaming scenes across India.
So more so, local states’ authorities create legislatures on gambling within their territories to avert confusion across the country. That means what is permitted in one Indian part may be illegal in another location. For example, the state of Maharashtra prohibits all kinds of online gambling and betting within the state.
On the other hand, the state of Goa and Sikkim have some leeway to how they oversee online casino gaming. They allow locals to wager in licensed online sites but within a controlled fashion. Nagaland also has some sort of regulations about online casino gaming and betting on sportsbooks.
Similarly, other states such as Orissa and Assam exclude wagering on games of skills despite having gambling laws and allowing online gaming.
Playing poker and limited gameplays online or offshore is permissible in Sikkim, West Bengal, and Nagaland under the respective gambling state laws. In Goa, gambling is permitted in specific casinos.
Of course, it is illegal to wager at unlicensed casino sites in India. Therefore, for you to gamble at online casinos safely, you should select a legit platform right off the bat.
One of the most crucial factors lies in the disparity between games of chance and those of skills. The Indian government is yet to draw the line between the two or adjust what is stipulated in the Public Gambling Act of 1867.
Games of chance vs Games of skills
The game of Rummy
The issue of whether games of chance are played and wagered on like sports remains undecided. Currently, there are substantial discussions at the Supreme and High Courts of India to constitute and clearly outline the differences.
The question is whether there is a preponderance to a game of skill or chance and vice-versa. For example, SC in the law of AP v. K. Satyanarayana (1968) held that Rummy (a popular sport in India) is a game of chance.
On the other side, the Indian Court in a judgement holds that if a gambling house makes profits when gamblers wager, then foretelling the outcomes of gameplays could amount to an offense punishable by the laws of AP. Still, it was observed by SC that three card games such as Flush and Brag are purely games of chance.
The argument on Rummy does not end there. There is the issue of whether staking with real cash is considered gambling or not.
The matter is still in the Supreme Court, but the High Court of Andra Pradesh in D. Krishna Kumar And Arn and the State of AP (2002) rely on the SC decision that states playing Rummy with real cash is gaming and not gambling.
In the same breath, the Court holds that games of skill don’t amount to gambling if players stake with real cash under Order 36 Rule (1) of CPC. The argument was that online games aren’t comparable to those in land-based casinos.
However, the Court argued that playing games of skills for real money is legal but enticing gamers with cash prizes is utterly illegal. Still, sites that take part of the winnings from a player are also unlawful as they resemble a traditional gambling house.
The Game of Poker
Poker is construed to be a game of chance, according to the Gujarat High Court. This is so since poker originated from Flush (Teen Patti) as observed by SC. Ideally, the argument for the observation stated that players have no control over the cards dealt and the outcomes. Winning on poker boils down to luck or the strength of the values of the cards a player gets.
In other words, strategies used in poker cannot be termed as skills. The outcomes depend on a player’s financial strength and luck. So more so, while a game like Rummy does not depend on wagering, poker involves staking cash. But again, wagering and staking are integral aspects when looking at the game of poker.
On the other hand, an offence can result from the Public Gambling Act of 1867 that states gambling involves any undertaking whose outcome is influenced by luck or chance where a player unconsciously risks winning or losing money. Concisely, the legality of poker remains questionable, hence the matter is left at the discretion of the police departments.
Horse racing and lotteries
Horse racing has several racecourses and attracts tons of fans across India. In the same degree, the sport is available in loads of bookmakers and wagering in it is acceptable in many parts of the country. Nevertheless, the leeway to play horse racing for real cash is regulated by state authorities that allow online gaming. As it is, some lawmakers argue that there would be no appeal to the game if at all there was to be no betting permitted.
On the other hand, lotteries gaming rules aren’t so strict in India. Notably, the Lotteries Regulation Act of 1998 governs all operations around how gamers participate in lotteries. This law somehow contradicts prohibitions on games of chance since winning in lotteries is purely out of luck.
It again specifies that at least one draw should take place weekly, but that isn’t enforced to most parts of India. That is so since the creation of lottery regulations is left on the hands of state authorities, despite the law being passed by the federal government.
Frequently Asked Questions
You now know that the overall Public Gaming Act of 1867 does not mention anything to do with online gambling. Similarly, to the best of our knowledge, we are certainly not aware of any gamer who has been charged for wagering at a gambling site outside India.
It is, therefore, safe to wager in offshore or foreign online casinos except if you come from Maharashtra. But if you hail from Goa or Sikkim, you can play online casino games. You should also know that if the gameplay is considered a game of chance and played with stakes, it would be termed as gambling under the Indian national laws.
However, don’t forget, some states have more explicit guidelines relating to online betting and wagering. It would be decent to consult a lawyer to be 100% sure of gambling laws in your state in case you need more clarifications.
Do you want to try your luck? Are you ready to get the ball rolling and make some cash? If so, you need to register at a reputable and trustworthy platform that accepts the use of Indian rupees.
NOW, pick any of our recommended sites and create an account. Ensure you also deposit a significant amount of cash right off to enjoy a bonus. Good luck and gamble responsibly.