India is one of the biggest countries in the world in terms of population and even land area. It’s also deeply religious and traditional, and this can be seen in the lifestyle and everyday activities. But this doesn’t mean that gaming is not popular in the subcontinent. On the contrary, they are passionate about gambling. Sports betting is very popular in the Indian subcontinent, particularly cricket and horse racing. It hosts a national cricket team that’s competitive in the international arena and regularly brings in honor to the country.
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Although gambling and betting on sports are popular, the gambling laws in India are strict. Technically, the gambling laws in India prohibit different forms of gambling with a few exemptions. The majority of the laws that relate to gambling are old thus open to many interpretations. These also apply to online gambling.
For this reason, it’s difficult to answer questions like: is online gambling legal in India or is casino legal in India? For this primer, we’ll take a look at the most important laws relating to gambling in India and help you how these can be interpreted. Please note that we reviewed the information for the benefit of our readers, however, we’re not lawyers so the content here should not be taken as legal advice.
Main Legislation and Gambling Laws in India
The betting laws in India and other important rules are captured in the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Initially, the Act applied to the ten states under British control but was soon amended to cover all states. In Gambling Act India, it’s illegal to host a venue where gambling takes place. Also, the rules indicate that it’s illegal to visit these facilities. However, the term ‘gambling’, is not given a precise definition in the act. For this reason, there are frequent concerns if gambling is legal in India or legal gambling in India is permitted.
The loose definition of the word also leads many to offer qualifying definitions of gambling. For example, one can say that cricket betting is a skill thus not covered by the law while betting on the outcome of a roll of dice is based on chance. This reasoning gains credibility thanks to one item on the Act (12) that it shall not apply to certain games.
It should be kept in mind that the country’s constitution offers a definition of gambling which can apply to the Act. In the definition, it refers to activities where the outcome is influenced by chance and entered into by a person with an understanding that he may win or lose. This definition may not be clear but it suggests that when you risk money, it’s automatically considered as gambling. However, other legislation and court decisions contradict this to some extent. For example, inState of Andhra Pradesh v K. Satyanarayana and Ors [AIR 1968 SC 825], clearly explores the difference between a game of skill and gambling.
Horse Racing and Lotteries
There are some games and activities where you can enjoy betting legal in India. Based on the traditional gambling laws in India, you can still participate and bet on horse racing and lotteries. Some bookies operate in major cities that comply with existing gambling laws in India. The same is true with lotteries that follow the requirements of gambling laws in India particularly the Lotteries (Regulation) Act of 1998.
Casino Gambling in India
Goa and Sikkim are the two states in India that allow legal casinos in India and these are governed by state-specific gambling laws in India. The state of Goa was the first to allow betting through slot machines in resorts and hotels. The state of Sikkim soon followed, and it currently hosts at least two land-based casinos.
Also, this state is the first to legalize online gambling through Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008, which was amended in 2015. Through the gambling laws in India specified by the state, online betting is legal in India provided that the operators are licensed under the Act and the facilities are within the geographical boundaries of the state.
Online Gambling with Offshore Online Casinos
Gambling laws in India have been around for decades and they fail to truly define what gambling is. Gaming and betting have become more complicated with the arrival and increasing popularity of mobile devices, the internet, and offshore gambling companies. There are no specific gambling laws in India that prohibit or regulate the activities of players who access offshore licensed casinos.
In the absence of online gaming laws in India that regulate these online sites, these can be regulated through intermediary compliance and internet laws as part of the Information Technology Act of 2009. In short, the gambling laws in India are still hazy on its definition of gambling, specifically on its treatment on online casino gambling.
So is cricket betting legal in India? Based on the gambling laws in India, the state of Sikkim offers a stress-free way of betting on cricket. Physical betting is legal in India in at least two states. However, we’ve already mentioned that other laws are not clear and there are no specific laws that punish players who access fully licensed offshore casinos that accept players from India.