Online gaming is the next big thing around the world. Along with its popularity, it brings forth opportunities for individuals to indulge in a plethora of community-based activities. The industry is on a rise and India happens to be one of the most lucrative and upcoming markets.
With 1.8 billion mobile users, 744 million people among them take refuge in online entertainment. As 5G gets added to the mix, the expected rise in popularity of entertainment via smartphones is a solid deal. Within this vibrant community, the appeal of online gambling is extremely high. Interlaced with the cultural fabric of this diverse nation, chasing stakes and making wagers is something most citizens of India are fond of.
Therefore, this niche subset of gaming is becoming increasingly popular across the globe in several countries including India. However, the question still remains – is online betting legal in India and its states? If you’re interested in betting and want to know more about whether or not it’s legal in your state, read on!
A Brief History of the Indian Betting Culture
Before exploring today’s legislation on gambling, it’s important to understand the history behind it in our country. Wagers were culturally accepted and have always been a part of Indian society. Epics like The Ramayana and Mahabharata have references to betting on multiple occasions. Be it chess, cards, or board games, it’s always been a form of entertainment for us.
Thus, for an activity so deeply woven into our cultural fabric, its popularity is imperative. Additionally, the diversification of gambling styles opens up the Indian diaspora to a range of options. Through survival and evolution, gambling has made its way into the finest sports in the country. With leagues like Dream 11 for cricket, the market is only evolving to be more intuitive, customer-centric, and creative in its approach. While all of this spells for a progressive community for this domain, the stakes here are always high. That’s why equipping yourself with relevant legal codes is pivotal to your success and safety.
Legal Code for Betting in India
In the year 1867, the government adopted the Public Gambling Act, which prohibits the establishment of a casino or gambling house in the country. Additionally, any person found in charge of a gambling house will be fined Rs. 200 and may get imprisoned for up to 3 months. However, the silver lining of this act is that it doesn’t prohibit or have any say on how online betting functions. Thus, if you’re looking to place your bets online, you can be rest assured it’s absolutely legal to do so!
State-wise Breakdown of Regulations in India
Even though the central government has no legislation preventing online gaming, state laws differ. So, if you’re interested in betting online, going through our guide below will help you get an idea of what’s legal and not in your state.
State Laws Status Assam Exempting horse racing and lotteries, the Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970, prohibits any form of wagering or betting. Since it is an extension of the Bengal Act, 1867, there is no provision that allows residents of Assam to indulge in online gambling, casino games, online fantasy sports, or any other skill-based games either. Nagaland This state has one of the most modern statutes as per the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2015.
The statute underlines and recognizes skill-based games and defines preponderance of skill over chance, strategizing for pacing wagers or bets, and skills of team selection in form of virtual stocks as legitimate activities.
Even though the Act is not very friendly towards new ventures and has severe taxation and fee involved for setting up such a business, as a resident you can avail the existing gambling games without worrying about legal misconduct.
Odisha The Orissa Prevention of Gambling Act, 1955, clearly bans any form of games for money involving betting and wagering. It prohibits games where a person intentionally stakes money or valuable items to the risk of loss by chance. Telangana The Telangana Gaming Act, 1974, again prohibits any form of online gambling via games of chance or via games of skill for all of its residents. Sikkim Similar to its neighbouring state, Sikkim has mandated a requirement of licences for online gaming. However, the state of Sikkim specifically mandates that all games need to be played from physical forums or gaming cafes. Additionally, these cafes need to host intranet terminals from which players can access online gambling games.
However, the mandate by Sikkim wipes out most of the popular gaming forums across the country. Only a couple of domestic state-based gaming houses have been granted licences to host betting games in the past decade.
Thus, if you’re a resident of Sikkim, gambling is not off the table, but your options are surely limited.
Andhra Pradesh Recent amendments to AP’s gaming acts have taken stern measures on wagers in the state. Previously “games of skill” were exempted from the act. However, the recent changes have done away with this provision as well, prohibiting online gambling platforms that indulge in money-making practices based on chance completely. PayTM has recently suffered the brunt of this legislative change and has been notified to cease all practices of online stakes in the state.
So, if you’re a resident of Andhra who used to indulge in online wagers, now is the right time to pack up your shop.
Tamil Nadu This state’s ordinance has been expanded proactively to include online gaming. The state prohibits games of chance while keeping a tight leash on games of skill. However, if you’re a resident of TN, online fantasy sports continues to be a vibrant domain for placing your bets freely! Goa, Daman & Diu The hotspot for international tourism could not be completely exempt from online gambling. Goa’s policies are carefully measured and calibrated. Due to the high presence of physical casinos, Goa has no specific regulations on online wagers. Thus, if you’re a resident of the state, we can assume it’s safe to place your bets online. West Bengal This may come as a shocker but West Bengal’s gambling laws are pretty lenient. However, it is noteworthy that the state, according to the IT Act of 2000, and, the West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competition Act, 1957, prohibits sports betting excluding horse races and lotteries. Card games such as rummy, bridge, and poker are excluded as well from the purview of the state. However, for organising such public events a permit is required from the District Magistrate, a Sub-divisional Magistrate, or the Commissioner of Calcutta Police. All in all, if you’re a resident of the state, online betting is absolutely accessible and legal for you. Maharashtra If you’re a resident of Maharashtra, online gambling is definitely not an option for you. The state according to the Bombay Wager Act bans all forms of wagers apart from lotteries. Gujarat According to an amendment of Gujarat’s laws in 1960, stakes-placed online are exempted from the purview of the law as long as the casinos and sports betting sites are located outside the country. If you want to trade in dollars, euros, and pounds, Gujarat seems to be the perfect fit. Rajasthan The situation in Rajasthan is dicey, as the state has no current penal provisions against gambling. However, this is set to change in the near future due to a bill that’s being introduced in the state assembly that makes online gambling a cognizable offence with serious punishments like jail time and steep fines. So, if your stakes are high in this state, we suggest you make the most of it right now and wrap your deals up before the bill passes the assembly floor. Delhi India’s capitol hill has a history of careful moderation when it comes to legal codes. Living up to its reputation, Delhi laws implicate that skill-based games are exempted from the purview of online gambling. However, a district court ruling created a precedent which indicates that online skill-based wager games cannot be equated to physical wagers on the premises of an increased chance of randomness, cheating, collusion, and manipulation. Thus, Delhi doesn’t necessarily allow online betting games involving money. Madhya Pradesh Well, Madhya Pradesh’s 1867 Act states that gambling in its totality is banned and illegal activity. However, the good news comes from a loophole in the law which fails to account for online wagers. As a result, if you’re a resident of the state, you’re in luck as betting is as hassle-free as it can be in this state. Bihar Bihar has no provisions against betting online and you can freely indulge in the act as long as you have a reliable network connection. Karnataka The Karnataka High Court struck down a law banning online gaming in mid-February this year. Thus, for those who wanted to indulge in gambling in this state, now’s your chance to cut yourself out of the FOMO and hit online tables with high stakes! Kerala Kerala’s legal code exempts lottery, wagering, and horse racing. However, it bans all forms of gambling online and offline. Uttar Pradesh UP follows the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which does not take into account online betting. Thus, bet away as long as you’re in this state! Haryana Haryana is outside the 13 states that have lotteries and prohibits the same. Additionally, the state prohibits sports betting. But the silver lining is that you can wager on fantasy sports as it’s considered a game of skill in this state.
Additionally, while physical card games are prohibited, you can still play such games through your C or smartphone, online as long as you’re playing at an offshore casino.
Jharkhand Residents of Jharkhand can venture into online games of chance or skill-based games as there is no provision prohibiting online stakes in the state. Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram Reflective of the status of NE India, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and Meghalaya have no bans on online wagers.
Mizoram allows online stakes as long as the betting site you wager on is located outside the Indian territory.
The Key Takeaway
To sum it all up, online betting is legal in most states across the country. Thus, if you’re looking to gamble, having a phone and an internet connection is sufficient enough for you. Online gambling is not exempt from its caveats. However, it doesn’t mean you’ve to give up on it completely.
Therefore, our advice to you all is, play safe and play hard!