All You Need To Know About Gambling Laws in India
One of the things that confuse people in India is the Gambling laws. Gambling laws are pretty complicated for a lot of reasons. One of them being the fact that the gambling industry in the country is governed by laws that are 150 years old. Ever since ancient times, gambling has been a part of the lives of Indian people. People have gambled in various forms for centuries and it is a part of our ancient culture. However, with time, a lot has changed in the gambling industry. With the introduction of technology and the internet, access to online gambling options such as casinos has completely changed how people around the world gamble.
Here at Spinsvilla we want our readers to be aware of all the legalities related to the gambling and betting world. Just like us, we want you to also fall in love with online betting and gambling. But before you dive into this amazing world, we would want to help you learn everything about the laws that govern gambling in India so that you are always safe and enjoy your time stress-free. Our team has researched all the legal documents, reports, and cases to gain the best information for the readers. The information you get here will be 100% accurate. We know how difficult it is to read a legal document and understand it. So, we are doing all the work for you. Sit back and read only the important stuff explained to you in simple words.
The Gambling Laws In India in 2021
As of right now, there are many gambling laws active in India. There are country laws as well as state laws. The country laws are effective for the entire country whereas the state laws differ from state to state. Again, there are different laws for online casinos and brick-and-mortar casinos. There are also laws governing the games of skills or games of chance.
The Indian Gambling Act
The Public Gaming Act is what dictates all the gambling practices in India. The act was introduced in 1867 and was initially applicable to all the states in the country. However later, it was changed, and the states were allowed to make their gambling laws. The Gambling Act is still used as a foundation for a lot of state laws governing gambling activities and their restrictions. In the gambling act, there is a clear difference mentioned between the various games that are considered gambling. The games that are played with skill, are considered legal which means it is legal to play poker, horse racing, and fantasy sports. The lottery is also one gambling practice that is legally approved by the government. These gambling laws however do not have anything to say about the online gambling practices because them being old and outdated. It is obvious that there was nothing like online gambling 150 years back and hence this is one grey area that makes online gambling safe and not illegal for Indian punters.
Is It Legal To Gamble In India?
This question can have different answers. The question in itself is not specific because you will need to know the kind of game being played and the location where it is being played. The law associated with gambling is usually focused on the common gaming houses or the brick-and-mortar gambling locations where people gamble in big numbers. In simpler words, they are more focused on land-based casinos. If we were to talk about land-based casinos, gambling is illegal in India as per the Public Gaming Act. Any person who is seen gambling receives a fine of INR 200 or up to 3 months in prison. The punishment is pretty mild.
It is also important to note that the act itself does allow some forms of gambling. The game of chance and game of skill has been divided by the act which means that both of them have different gambling laws.
The game of skill includes- Bridge, Poker, Chess, Rummy, Carrom, Golf, Horse Racing, Darts, and Fantasy Sports. The game of chance includes Slot games, Blackjack, RNG-Table games, Roulette, and Baccarat The law allows participation in skill-based games as long as the players adhere to the regulations. However, chance-based games are all illegal. There are however some states that do allow these games including Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Sikkim and Daman, and Diu.
These states have state laws. However, there are always loopholes and exceptions with the laws and the gambling law also have some exceptions. Diwali is one time of the year when it is ok to gamble with friends and family. Since the houses where gambling practices are not considered as commercial gambling establishments, the act of gambling is not illegal.
As we have already discussed above, there are different kinds of gambling in India. Each of these has its own rules and regulations and the rules differ from state to state. This might be a little confusing but if you only keep track of the laws governing your state and the games you want to play then you are good to go. Also, remember that you need to know the laws if you want to play at a physical casino. Now let us get to know more about different kinds of games.
Casinos: The casino games at brick-and-mortar casinos are legal in Goa, Dadra and NagarHaveli, Sikkim and Daman, and Diu. As far as online gambling is concerned, it is regulated by the Gaming Enactments. They consider online casino games to be non-skill based and hence they are prohibited.
Poker: As per the law, Poker is considered as a ‘game of skill’. The Gaming Enactments of Indian States does not include the game of poker and hence it is available in various parts of the country. States such as Sikkim, Gujarat, and Telangana do not offer poker whereas Nagaland operators require a license to offer Poker on a commercial scale.
Betting: The regulations on betting depend on the games where the bets are placed. The betting is either regulated with some restrictions or it is allowed. The bets that are placed on games of chance will be prohibited whereas betting on games of skills is legal.
Bingo: Bingo in India is considered a lottery or gambling. If it is considered a lottery, it is governed under the Lottery Laws. This means that the lottery is allowed in most states under some conditions. However, if it is considered gambling, it will be prohibited since it is a game of chance. This depends on state to state.
Lottery: The Government Lottery Laws have been modified by a few states. Punjab only allows online lotteries. Madhya Pradesh on the other hand banns any kind of lotteries and Sikkim allows lotteries under regulated conditions.
Local Gambling Laws In Different States
The Public Gambling Act was introduced for the whole country but there are some states and union territories that have regulations specific to gambling. A country with such a huge population and diversity of religion, culture, and people needs different gambling laws to operate. This means that each area or state in the country will have a difference in opinion about gambling and the regulations controlling it.
There are some states such as Sikkim and Goa where licensed operators can run land-based casinos and offer various gambling games. Some states totally ban gambling because of the high Hindu and Muslim population. These states include Orissa and Assam.
Let us take a look at gambling laws for each state.
In Maharashtra, casino games offering operators are not allowed. However, horse racing and lottery are legal. In addition to this Rummy is also legal but there are some unclear laws about this game.
Delhi is one of the states with its own Public Gambling Act. This act prohibits gambling in the state. However, offshore online casinos are not prohibited.
Both Karnataka Police Act, 1963 and Public Gambling Act, 1867 regulate gambling in the state. However, gambling houses are illegal except for games such as horse racing, rummy, and poker.
The only gambling activity that is not illegal in Meghalaya is horse racing whereas other gambling activities are regulated by the Prevention of Gambling Act (1970).
Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 regulates gambling in the states. However, there is no mention of online gambling in the act allowing the activity.
Haryana follows the national gambling laws but has tried to legalize gambling in the state. They legally let the players bet on horse racing and online gambling.
Punjab allows lottery and online gambling whereas all other activities are regulated by National Gambling Laws.
Public Gambling Act, 1867 and Rajasthan Public Gambling Ordinance, 1949 are the ones that dictate gambling in the state.
Public Gambling Act of 1867 and the Bihar Ban on Lottery Act, 1993 are the two major acts governing gambling in Bihar. However, it is easier to play online gambling from here.
Indian Public Gambling Act, 1867 regulates gambling in Madhya Pradesh. This combined with M.P Lottery Pratibandh Act, 1993 are two major regulations. It is one of the states where state lottery is allowed.
Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
All of these allow casino games by licensed operators under the Public Gambling Act, 1976. However, the slots and table games are only available on five-star hotels and cruise ships.
Sikkim is another state that offers casino games. The operators need a license to operate under the Sikkim Casino Act. Sports betting is also allowed in the state.
A lot of virtual games, rummy, chess, and poker along with some other games are allowed under the Nagaland Act. However, the operators with games of skill need a license.
Telangana is one of the strict states that prohibits all forms of gambling from online to offline and has a zero-tolerance approach against gambling under the Telangana Gaming Act 2017.
Horse racing, rummy, poker, and the state lottery are legal in West Bengal along with offshore online casino games.
Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970 in addition to the national gambling law are the ones that determine the legal and illegal acts of gambling in Assam. However, the Amusement and Betting Tax Act 1939 allows horse racing.
The national gambling laws are applicable in Kerala except for Lottery which is regulated by Kerala Paper Lotteries (Regulation) Rules, 2005.
Odisha Prevention of Gambling Act, 1955 banns all kinds of gambling in the state. However, there are no regulations on offshore online gambling.
Laws Governing Online Gambling and The IT Act
When it comes to the online gambling industry, there are no laws that cover it distinctly. If we see the local gambling laws then these include all kinds of gambling from online to offline, However, these laws do not govern the casinos that are operating from foreign locations.
The Information and Technology Act was put into place in 2000. The act was created to protect people from corrupt online digital activities. However, even in the IT Act, there is no clear mention of online gambling. It still is used to block and regulate foreign operators.
This is done by ISP-blocking. ISP-blocking means when the local internet providers shortlist and block certain casino websites.
Another entity that does regulate online gambling activities is RBI. Now how would the Reserve Bank of India regulate online gambling? Well, it is done by putting restrictions onmaking payments at the gambling websites. However, this has not stopped the Indian gamblers who have found alternative methods to gamble. These alternate methods include mobile wallets such as Neteller, GooglePay, Skrill, and other such options where it is not restricted to pay at an online casino.
Online Gambling In India In A Nutshell
It is pretty obvious from the laws governing online gambling, that it becomes impossible for Indian punters to enjoy gambling at their favorite casinos.
However, there is a catch.
These laws do not govern foreign gambling websites. This means that if the company is not based in India, they can offer casino games to Indian players without any restrictions. So, what does this mean for the gamblers? It means that the gamblers can play at as many websites they want to access if they are based outside India without breaking any laws. Since the operators are not Indian, playing on them does not make it illegal.
Online Gambling Sites With A Foreign Operator
When we talk about casinos or gambling websites that operate from outside India, there are a lot of trusted options available. These websites accept Indian players and some of them are also designed specifically for the Indian players. The ones that cater to the Indian audience will have all the games that Indian players love and will accept payments in Rupees. So, any casino that focuses on Indian players will be able to handle registrations and payments easily with fast deposits and withdrawals.
If you are interested in some operators, we have listed them down below so that you can get an idea and some good recommendations.
Game Providers Offering Games In India
The game providers that provide games to the online casinos operating outside India also have to go through a lot of strict rules and regulations. They need to have a license from various governing bodies and always operate under strict laws. The game developers or providers also have regular audits for the games they produce so that the games they offer are safe and fair. So, they ask external organizations such as iTechLabs or eCOGRA to conduct independent inspections and then certify them.
Some of the best game providers include the following:
NetEnt: If you are someone who has visited an online casino or played on one, you must have seen NetEnt games there. NetEnt has a wide portfolio of games from slots to live casinos and jackpot games. They are licensed from Malta which allows them to offer Indian players a chance to play their games.
Ezugi: Ezugi is another operator that caters to the Indian audience and creates a lot of games such as Teen Patti and Andar Bahar. They have been licensed in Malta as well and have made live casino gaming possible for Indians.
Evolution Gaming: Just like Ezugi, Evolution gaming also focuses a lot on the Indian players. They have an MGA license which makes them safe and trustworthy. Their offerings for the Indian players include Bollywood live roulette and various blackjack tables amongst the other games they offer.
As we saw that India has some complicated laws when it comes to gambling and there is a lot that is still being decided around the country. For example, the legality of poker is still being reviewed in Gujarat. Also, with the increase in mobile and internet users, the governments have started seeing the profits that online gambling can bring to them. Hence new regulations are being planned to keep these profits in the country itself.
These are the discussions of the future and there is still a lot of discussions that need to be held. There is a possibility that more and more states start regulating gambling laws in the near future.
There is also another factor to consider which is the taxation of gambling. The games that are traceable to the players are susceptible to taxation. But what about the foreign gambling operators? Well since they are from outside India, they do not have
to adhere to the taxation laws. So, the government has no way to track any winning a player makes at a foreign casino website. However, the local income will come under the income tax laws. The Indian Income Tax Law states that the income that is generated from winning a lottery or a card game or a crossword puzzle or any such game over INR10,000 will be taxable at a rate of 30%. Also, the Indian websites offering to gamble will deduct a TDS on each winning.
Frequently Asked Questions About Indian Gambling Laws
Is it legal to gamble in India?
In simple words, if you indulge in any gambling activity in an unlicensed gambling house, it is considered a punishable offense. However, gamblers are not the focus of the laws in India. The focus is mainly on the gambling establishments offering games illegally. So, gamblers usually are safe.
How do you define online gambling?
Online gambling is a type of betting or gambling where the punters play at an online website. It could be an online casino or an online sports betting platform. These platforms offer various digital versions of casino games such as slots and table games along with live streaming of these table games from remote locations.
Where is it possible to gamble legally in India?
Gambling legally is possible in Goa, Daman and Diu, Sikkim and Dadra and Nagar Haveli if you want to play at a land-based casino. However, if you are not located in one of these states, you can always look for online casinos or sports betting websites we have listed for you.
Is it legal to gamble at online websites in India?
The only India-based casino that offers legal gambling is available in Sikkim. However, Indian players can gamble online at foreign-based websites without worrying about breaking any laws.
Is sports betting legal in India?
If we talk about the locally available sports betting sites, then only Sikkim is the state that legally allows sports betting. However, it is important to note that horse racing is considered a game of skill and can be bet on. Online sports betting at foreign casinos and sportsbooks are legal.
Which online site can I bet legally in India?
All the casino websites that are listed in our recommended section are safe to bet for Indian players. They have been tried and tested and are some of the best options available out there.
What are the legal games of skill in India?
The Public Gaming Act allows gambling on games of skills. These games include Rummy, Poker, Bridge, Chess, Horse Racing, Darts, Fantasy Sports, Golf, and Carom.
Are all gambling laws the same all over India?
No, the gambling laws are different across the country. Each state has its own laws and regulations. However, these laws, be it the state or center, are not applicable for the gaming companies operating in foreign locations. So, even if you are in a regulated state, it is possible to enjoy gambling on these websites.