Online Gambling in India: Know the Facts

Is online gambling legal in India? What’s the future of online gambling? Know the details here.

Online gambling in India varies from state to state, as India does not have a unified law that deals with gaming and gambling. This leads to the Constitution of India empowering each state to make its own gambling laws. As a result, there are various state- specific deviations for the same. 

Like an example, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have banned online games. Yet, in West Bengal, games of bridge, poker and rummy are excluded from the definition of gambling. There is a government notification in Kerala that exempts rummy from gambling if no side- betting is involved. However, you’ll need a licence for online games in Sikkim and Nagaland. 

Since gambling laws in most states have been only modelled on a pre- independence law, Public Gambling Act 1867, it is not equipped to deal with modern forms of gambling- both online and offline. For example, the law contemplates playing games only in a common gaming house, which is a physical enclosure or a confined set space. 

Public Gambling Act, 1867 is a central law that prohibits being in charge of or running a public gambling house. The penalty for breaking the law is an imposed fine of ₹200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. Moreover, this Act prohibits visiting gambling houses. A fine of ₹100 or imprisonment of up to one month is the penalty.

States have recognised that online gambling needs need different treatment than the regular, leading to inconsistencies of the law in each state across India. On one hand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have banned online gambling played for money or/ and stakes entirely, yet Tamil Nadu continues to permit skill based online gambling (but none other). 

The Supreme Court of India has developed a basic guiding principle- games where chance dominates over skill are prohibited while games where skill dominates over chance are permitted. But without proper facts, courts all over India have been applying this principle as subject to various facts and views.

Is casino legal in India?

Places like Goa, Daman and Sikkim are the only ones where there are legal casinos in India. Here, regular gambling activities are restricted except in select categories like horse racing and lotteries. While critics of gambling claim that it leads to a rise of corruption, crime and money laundering, facts are that Goan casinos has contributed 135 crores to the state revenue in 2013.