2019 Latest Legal Update On Gambling In India

In the past decades, the word ‘gambling’ used to be so horrifying that people were frightened to even utter that word in public places. It was considered to be an illegal activity back then and serious punishment was given to someone found guilty. It was only the residents of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Nevada, who were very cool discussing about gambling and even getting involved with gambling and betting activities, without getting penalized by law. This is history today. 

Now-a-days, things have changed. Many countries, like India, allow their citizens to enjoy online gambling and some forms of offline gambling. It is thus, no more a crime. 

Despite this, we have often seen people calling gambling as illegal in India. If this is considered to be true, how it is possible for Indians to openly use betting platforms, like Dream11 and Bet365? Is there any law in India that states the exact status of gambling from a legal point of view?

If you are an Indian, wanting to try hands in online gambling and betting, you should be aware of what’s the latest update on gambling and betting in India. This will help you be on a safer side. So, if you really wish to know the update about gambling in India, its time to get started with this handy guide. 

Gambling Existed In India Since Ages 

This would come as a surprise to you. The rich culture of India, which never had place for gambling, once witnessed a huge incident of gambling, which turned into an epic tale afterwards – The Mahabharata. Most of you might be aware of this. 

While playing a dice game with his estranged cousin Duryodhana, king Yudhishtira lost everything, including his wealth, brothers, and even wife to him. 

Since then, the types of bets and face of gambling have completely changed with sophisticated card games, like, poker, blackjack, and lottery. Betting options, like sports betting and horse race betting are also prevalent today. 

Do All The States In India Work On The Same Gambling Laws?

No, all the states have different laws on gambling that are applicable within their respective geographical limits. 

According to the Indian Constitution (as that stated in the Seventh Schedule), only the states have the right to create gambling laws for their respective jurisdiction. If they wish so, they can even legalize gambling in their states.

As of now, most of the forms of gambling are deemed as legal only in Daman, Sikkim and Goa. Nagaland is the first state to declare an online Poker operator as licensed. In addition, 13 states, including Visakhapatnam, have been found to legalize lottery. 

Public Gambling Act, 1867 

The overall gaming market in India generates nearly 3.5% of the country’s GDP, amounting to around Rs. 2,50,000 crore or US $60 billion, as per a report by KPMG. Most of the revenue generated by this market is either illegal or unaccounted. People who favour a regulated gambling atmosphere, often claim gambling to be a major source of revenue for Goa, Daman and Sikkim. Despite this, Indian laws have always been hostile towards gambling and betting. 

Many of the pre-independence statutes, one of which is the Public Gambling Act, still exist in India. According to this act, the following points device a crime- 

  • Operate or help someone operate a gambling house,  
  • Financing gambling, 
  • Visiting a brick-and-mortar gambling house. 

Anyone found guilty, will be subject to imprisonment of up to three months. A penalty fine of Rs. 200 rupees can also be levied as a punishment. 

The most interesting part of this Act is that it does not state anything about betting or gambling online. 

Also, according to Indian law, games are categorized into two types – ‘Games of Skill’ and ‘Games of Chance’. The former, i.e. the game of skill, is said to be legal by the Supreme Court of India for the very fact that it involves the use of one’s skills and intellect. ‘Games of Chance’ are based on pure luck, which is why they are not considered to be legal. 

As a result, Games of Skill, like Horse Racing and Rummy are legalized under The Public Gambling Act. Cricket betting does not fall under the category of games of skill. However, there is no law that clearly states that cricket betting is illegal. 

The Indian National Newspaper states that ICC’s (International Cricket Council) Chief Executive officer has favoured the legalization of sports betting in the past. Similarly, many professionals and forums in India believe that regulated gambling should be legalized, in order to keep the gambling economy protected against the mafia. Mr. Haroon Lorgat, the former CEO of ICC, was also found to urging about the legalization of cricket betting sites. According to him, legalization will curb the problem of corruption and match-fixing in cricket. 

The last recorded update on gambling in India is the suggestion made by the Law Commission of India. Similar to what is mentioned above, The Law Commission of India suggested legalising betting and gambling activities in India in a very regulated environment.

Information Technology Act, 2000

This act regulates cyber activities in India, and has not yet mentioned anything that goes against gambling or betting online. This is why playing at an online gambling platform is not illegal and is out of the coverage of the IT Act. 

Till date, only The Bombay Wager Act has explicitly stated online betting and gambling as an offense for the state of Maharashtra. 

Online Gambling 

Sikkim wanted to offer three online gambling licenses, back in 2010. However, it failed. At present, the state permits Indian gaming enthusiasts to place bets from across the country and also lets them enjoy online lottery. 

After Sikkim opening its arms for online gambling, it was expected that other states would also follow the same. But, things didn’t turn up as expected. Also, since people were unaware of the legal status of gambling in India, no one ever portrayed their desire to play online gambling games. 

Further, as per law, India cannot have gambling sites that promote bingo, sports betting, or any other online games related to gambling. Surprisingly, for offshore companies, there is no law restricting them to create gambling websites, which target Indian players. The only legal rule applicable to them is to let the Indian players use Rupee as the payment method. 

With this, we can clearly understand that visiting or playing at online gambling and betting sites is not illegal, unless the website is offered by non-Indian companies. This is why online gambling is a complete business. 

Popular International Gambling Sites For Indians 

By now, you have understood that placing bets or gambling online is completely legal on Non-Indian websites, meant for Indian players. These websites allow you to enjoy a wide selection of gambling games in a pure regulated environment.

The central government has no authoritative control over licensed bookmakers, who operate under European and International Law legally. 

Betway is one of the most popular international gambling and betting site that targets Indian players, offers them Indian Rupee as a payment method and is also available in several languages. Thus, Betway and other similar Non-Indian websites are exempted from Indian law jurisdiction. Also, with no promotions or servers being used in the country, the authorities cannot object or stop the Non-Indian gambling sites from attracting gaming enthusiasts in India. It is thus, easy for people to bet on IPL matches, play a variety of gambling games and use e-wallets for payments, without breaching any specific law.

Online Gambling is Possible In India

Although there are strict laws related to offline gambling, there is no specific law about online gambling. Hence, if you wish to experience the fun of realistic gambling in this physical world, you know Goa, Sikkim and Daman are the only options available to you. 

However, if you just want to entertain yourself with exciting gambling games, online gambling is the ultimate choice. 

But, what’s making online gambling legally possible in India?  

  • Non-Indian Websites 

As already stated above, one can enjoy online gambling at Non-Indian websites as their servers are located in countries, where it is legal to involve in gambling and betting activities. Indian laws are only applicable to activities that take place within the nation. 

  • Virtual Payments 

As the Indian laws are ambiguous in nature, Indian players experience a smooth, unhindered experience of online gambling. Debit and credit cards issued by banks in India were once accepted for payment at online gambling sites. However, after the government prohibited their use, gambling sites refused accepting bank-issued debit/credit cards. Since then, virtual money began to be used, as transacting through virtual money is not illegal. 

Although cryptocurrencies were widely used as a payment method at online gambling sites, yet their usage decreased after the Indian government declared them as non-legal tender. 

  • Rising Popularity 

The popularity of online gambling is increasing day by day, which in turn, is increasing the number of investors or gambling websites that are intended for the Indian audience. You may even find known celebrities representing the gambling platform of investors, with a view to lure targeted customers towards their site or platform. 

Conclusion 

In the context of online betting and gambling, the Indian Laws are highly unclear and discretionary. Hence, online gambling cannot be termed as illegal, unless any specific law stating its legal status is formulated by the Indian government. 

So, if you wish to enjoy online gambling, get started with the fun without violating any law at any Non-Indian gambling website meant for Indian players.

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