This is one of the hard-hitting questions loads of Indian online gamers ask themselves. Well, nevertheless, the answer isn’t a direct yes or no. And considering no one wants to be on the wrong side of the law, there is still much detail to learn about the Indian ONLINE gambling guidelines.
More so, casino gaming impacts can cause detrimental effects if gamers misunderstand or ignore federal legislatures. Let’s face it; India has a significant population of online gamers. That being the case, every gambler should know what is right and wrong. However, there is a thin line to what online players can and cannot play. As it stands, India’s national gambling laws have been a center of debate for a long time, trying to come up with well-defined legislatures.
Luckily, today, we want to walk you through the legality of betting on sports and playing online casino games in India. We will tell you what the federal laws state and where the state authority legislatures come into play.
It’s important for you to understand that we are not lawyers, so, in case of doubts, we kindly request you to verify with a local lawyer the legality to play online casinos and sports betting in your region.
However, if you decide to continue to read this article and play, you will take full responsibility to do so. Now, let’s get into uncovering the details.
The history of federal gambling laws in India
Gambling has been part and parcel of India’s people and dates from over 1000 years ago before the coming in of virtual or online gaming. However, back then, gaming was unregulated, and Indians would wager in different games such as animal fights, Andar Bahar, and Teen Patti freely.
The coming in of the British colonial rule into India brought changes to how the locals gamed. The British rulers decided to enact the first Indian gambling law called the Public Gambling Act of 1867. As it was, the law outlawed and prohibited any act intending to aid or facilitate gambling of whatever nature within India.
The surprising bit about the Public Gambling Act of 1867 is that it did not mention anything to do with online gaming or online casinos. That is arguably due to the lack of the internet in those days, which is an indication that online casino gaming does not have an explicit legal framework in India.
Today, the British rule has undergone close to no amendments or changes. It is again active and operational in most Indian states such as in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya, Maharashtra, and other areas. Its content indicates that it is unlawful to own, promote, operate, or visit a gambling facility within India.
However, some states such as Sikkim and Goa have come up with their own online gaming rules to make gaming guidelines more straightforward. As a result, it is challenging to determine whether your state allows betting on online sportsbooks of games such as cricket, football, and hockey or online casino games like blackjack and roulette.
The current gambling status in India despite gambling laws
The Indian parliament is currently torn between allowing online gaming but under ligulated scenes and prohibiting it entirely. As it is, there are no clear laws nationally to point to that outlaw online casino gambling. Online gaming will remain to be a gray area until the federal Indian government comes to a consensus.
Each Indian state has the mandate to come up with online gaming guidelines within their territory. Nevertheless, most jurisdictions that prohibit gaming centralize the regulation on land-based gaming houses within their region. So far, some states have legislation to oversee gambling, others are still struggling to decide what to allow or not, and a few condemn the whole idea. For example, Maharashtra’s state prohibits all kinds of gambling, both online and offline, under the Bombay Wager Act of 1887. Similarly, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and a few other states use the Public Gambling Act of 1867.
On the other hand, states such as Sikkim and Goa have laws that partly legalize online and offline gaming. In Goa, gamers can gamble in specific online gameplays and government-licensed places. You can play some online casinos and visit land-based casino houses that have licenses to run the gaming business in Sikkim. In addition, the state of Nagaland has some leeway to online gaming and sports betting. That is an indication that what you can wager online in one location may be illegal in another.
Nevertheless, there is a confusing bit about the laws set at the state level. For example, Orissa and Assam prohibit wagering at unlicensed sites and games of skills despite allowing some form of online gaming. The two areas and a few others only allow gambling in games of chance, while still holding on to the Public Gambling Act of 1867 partly.
Of course, it is illegal, unsafe, and unethical to wager at rogue online casinos. But again, what is the line between games of skills and those of chances? How do you tell their differences? Is there a preponderance in the two?
Let’s look at what the different law enforcers, court judges, and lawyers say about the two despite some states validating their stand regarding online casinos.
Games of chance vs. Games of skills
The game of Rummy in India
Over the years, there have been endless discussions at the Indian High Courts and the Supreme Court over what is a game of chance and a game of skill. Check this, referring to a case in the state of A. Pv. K. Satyanarayana, in 1968, a game of skill is where there is a prevalence of skill over chance such as in the sport of Rummy.
But again, the judge indicated that if various gambling houses make profits whenever gamers wager on the game, then the whole process could amount to a lawsuit, punishable by the AP laws. In another case at the Supreme Court in Karnataka in 1995, it was observed that card games such as Brag, Flush among others are games of chance.
In the same degree, there is the issue of whether playing games of chance with real cash is gambling or not. The Court holds that playing games of skills for real money is legal in the basic form only, without enticing gamers with cash prizes. Similarly, online gameplays are different from real games under Order 36 Rule (1) of Civil Procedure Court (CPC), but online casinos that take a cut from gamers’ winnings are unlawful.
The game of lottery in India
Jumping off, Indian lottery laws refer to the Lotteries Regulations Act of 1998. As it is, lotteries are games of chance and allowed in some states. However, Maharashtra prohibits the game, while in Punjab, the authority indicates it will start online lottery schemes, aiming to generate P159 crores by selling lottery tickets.
The Lottery Regulations Act somehow contradicts the current prohibition on games of chance. Ideally, winning in a lottery game is purely out of luck, and there is no skill. Still, while the Act stipulates that there should be at least one lottery draw weekly and that a state government can ban online lotteries from operating, most state authorities fail to enforce the exercise.
Horse racing in India
Horse racing attracts loads of gamblers and is legal in most Indian states. This is so since some lawmakers assume that winning in a horse racing bet requires you to have the necessary skills to pick the best horse and jockey. Still, the game would possibly lack its entertainment aspect if gamers weren’t allowed to bet.
Poker game in India
According to a ruling at the High Court of Gujarat, poker gaming is considered a chance game. Consequently, noting to the SC law of A. Pv. K. Satyanarayana (1968), the observation was that a player could not control how the dealing of cards takes place or outcomes. That makes winning in poker a luck affair on the strength of the hand you get.
Notably, winning in poker boils down to the cards you get, which isn’t determinable by the dealer or skill. And considering that a game like Rummy doesn’t depend on wagering when it comes to casino gaming, in poker, it must involve staking real cash to get a winner.
On the flip side, the Public Gambling Act of 1867 states that gambling is any activity whose outcome results from luck or chance. That makes playing poker unclear, and the matter is left to the police departments to oversee what is legal and what is not.
Other laws governing online gaming in India
The Information Technology Act (2000)
All things constant, there are a few other online casino gaming laws that apply nationally. The Information Technology Act of 2000 is one of them. It can take effect when looking at games of chance and skills and online sports betting. As it is, the Act provides provisions relating to an offense that can result from online gaming, although there are no mentions of online gaming being illegal.
Notably, the Information Technology Act of 2000 gives the federal government of India the power and leeway to block any offshore gaming casino operating in the country, especially if it violates the set rules. Consequently, the government directs Internet Service Providers in India to prevent local gamers from accessing some foreign gaming sites. It is unclear though how effective the Act works or which brands are banned in the country, but it is arguably a measure to safeguard Indians’ online gamers from rogue sites that are run by fraudsters.
The Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999)
The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 1999 is another crucial law we cannot overlook. It oversees the exchange of Indian rupees to other currencies. As it stands, depositing or withdrawing funds in foreign currencies other than the rupee in a casino gaming site can be termed to be illegal. The Act demands that all gaming platforms operating in India should allow using rupees. This is arguably the reason many Indian gamers often encounter glitches whenever transferring cash from their bank accounts or eWallet to a gaming site.
International Gambling License
Indians should ensure the platforms they join not only allow depositing and withdrawing money in the rupee currency but also have legit licenses from renowned online gambling authorizers like the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gambling Commission. That is achievable only if you wager at offshore brands that have a license abroad and are fully regulated.
Frequently Asked Questions
In summation, the Indian government SHOULD create explicit and clear federal legislatures that apply countrywide. That is so since online gaming is a multi-billion business that can bring millions of tax collection revenues. But again, there are no laws that apply if gamblers wager at an online casino outside India. As it is, you can bet at an online platform, but it would be wise if you consult a lawyer about the gaming rules in your area. Achieving that will equip you with any additional information that may be left out to help you get the ball rolling.
Now, if you are ready to start wagering at online casinos, there are loads of games you can stake and possibly win massive cash rewards. But remember, you need to play at licensed sites that support transacting cash in rupees and offer good freebies. Do you want to make some money right off the bat? Okay, sign up at any of our recommended gaming casinos and wager. Before that, ensure you deposit a significant amount of cash to get a massive welcome bonus.