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Is Online Gambling Legal in India?

Gambling has been a part of many regions, countries, and cultures around the world. So it wasn’t a stretch to assume that online gambling would gain popularity as well. This was proven true when online gambling took the world by storm. It gained so much attention in such little time that many companies and developers jumped on to the trend.

They launched their sites then they developed apps and now try to outdo each other with features. India has a population of well over a billion people. Similar to other parts of the world, online gambling is popular in India as well.

Despite its popularity, it is technically illegal. However, the laws surrounding it are murky at best. Finding clarity to the question “Is betting legal in India” is ambiguous. Neither do most articles highlighting that they have found the answer to show any concrete evidence.

Navigating the legal landscape when it comes to an online casino or other forms of betting can be tricky. But it has also become necessary because of the millions of people signing up on these sites yearly.

No one wants to face repercussions because they participated in a tournament which turned out to be illegal. There is outdated legislation stating that traditional gambling is illegal. What about online gambling? Since there are no clear laws about it, it is also difficult to regulate. This opens it up to exploitation and abuse.

This article navigates the legal landscape of online gambling in India and whatever progress there has been.

Table of contents Table Of Content

The Indian Gaming Market

The Indian gaming market has been divided into two main parts: online skill-based games and gambling. Gambling is considered similar to the former skilled-based games in Indian laws and regulations. The topics of gambling and online betting have been included in the subject-matter for the 7th schedule in the constitution. It is also widely covered here, at CasinoCaptain India.

Web-based gaming requires a license to operate in several states under the guidelines of “Games of Skill”. The guidelines are provided by the Public Gambling Act (PGA) 1867. Yet no proper instructions are indicating if they are legal or not.

The Quick Growth of the Online Gambling Market

With an increase in downloads of apps and more people taking to gambling sites for a fun a convenient experience, there has been significant growth.

The Indian gambling market worth has been stated to be around in millions from the period of 2008-2018. With so many people showing interest, its growth is expected to be rise to even more. The gambling market is expected to eventually, reach 60 billion US dollars in a few years.

Based on a report published by the Indian Commission the current market of around $360 million will reach $1 billion by the end of 2021. They also stated that there would be more regulations imposed on the future to stop exploitation, fraud, and scams from happening.

This will also keep the gambling world moving in a positive direction.  

Gambling Regulations in India

There is little in the way of regulations made on online gambling throughout the years. This is despite their increasing popularity. The legislation that exists is outdated and there have been several changes made in the gambling world since.

There are also no attempts being made at the legal level to clarify things. The legalities have been discussed in multiple regions to no avail. In addition, gambling laws included at both federal and state-level has left people further confused.

Various state governments at the state level have regulated selective aspects of online gambling such as slots and casino games. There are rules regarding casino tables and slots despite the legal aspects of it are still complex. Online gambling and betting are different from traditional gambling that is steeped into several regions of India.

It has been defined either separately or under a subdivision category. In India, gambling and skill-based gaming are considered interchangeable. This is evident by the term gambling subdivided into the categories of Games of Skill, Games of Chance, and Game of Skill and Chance.

Game of Skill

Games of Skill are given higher leniencies in state laws and have been considered as legal.

These are games such as poker, blackjack, and other similar games.

game of skill legal india

Game of Pure Chance

The games of pure chance have faced more restrictions. They are prohibited in most states.

These have been heavily monitored and are significantly more restricted than sports betting.

game of chance legal india

Game of Chance & Skill

These involve games that require both skills and chance at one level or another.

They have faced fewer leniencies than games of pure chance and games of skill.

game of skill and chance legal india

Prohibitions

After extensive research and going through the laws of various states, it was found that state laws prohibit a game of skill. In others, there have been restrictions on all kinds of gambling.

From this, it can be understood the Indian government has started to make efforts towards regulating online gambling. They have started to consider the dynamic nature of online gambling. However, it is yet to define it legally in the country.

The reason behind prohibiting any kind of gambling or ‘game’ is to make sure that people do not start any illegal activities such as casino scams. Scams and frauds target the common man. People have suffered the loss of their savings and wages, internet scams and fake news spread across the internet.

By opting for stricter laws and regulations, common people can be protected. It has also given positive results regarding employment opportunities and increased revenues.

Therefore, prohibitions can be a good thing. Moreover, it is a step in the right direction considering this will help make the murky legal situation clearer. There should also be the identification of what activities and games are considered legal. This will ensure any player does not involve themselves in any illegal activity.

Yet there are no laws that apply to register and play online casino on foreign sites as of yet. Casinos in India have been gaining attention with several software providers, newspapers and casino affiliated websites promoting it to the local public.

There are several options available for casino games and sites. The most loved are slots, blackjack, poker, roulette and baccarat. In addition, sites popular in India have also started offering Indian card games.

Indian casino games are still in their earlier stages. They are gaining pace with more new sites being developed and more people registering every day. The state of Sikkim was the first to provide licenses to online gambling sites in 2010.

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Public Gaming Act 1867

The most notable piece regarding gambling in India is the Public Gaming Act (PGA) 1867. This initially included only ten states when India was under the rule of the British. This eventually extended to include all the states.

As per the Act, it is illegal to operate any venue that has gambling taking place there. Visiting a place where it happened also was made illegal.

However, even though amendments have been made it still does not state what it considers gambling in the first place.

This makes it impossible to determine whether betting on cricket and a roll of dice is the same thing. Cricket is skill-based gambling whereas the roll of dice is a game of chance.

However, there is a definition provided in the constitution that one may argue transcends any other made and can be applied as a reference to PGA.

Yet, based on this definition anything that involves risking money can be considered as gambling and is illegal. This makes betting whether it is on sports or cards illegal, but there are legislations on the federal and state level that contradict it to an extent.

Law Commission of India

In 2017, after much deliberation on whether or not to allow betting on sports and other forms of gambling in the country, the Supreme Court ruled it illegal. It was declared as illegal because of the possible repercussions that may arise because of it. Anyone operating a gambling house could face imprisonment and a fine.

The Law Commission of India 2018 stated that it was not safe to legalise gambling in the country. The state authorities were asked to work in accordance with the ruling of the parliament. The Commission also made recommendations that the PAN card and Aadhaar linking strategy should be used.

This was so identification could be made easier on who was gambling on these sites and for taxation purposes. They also recommended a record be kept of this so regulations would be easier to impose.

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All India Gaming Federation

The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) is a non-profit that functions as an apex body. Its focus is on policy advocacy, research, and to become a forum for discussion with the stakeholders for the gaming industry. It has committed to bringing light to issues involving the gaming industry. AIGF, based on the consideration of gambling in the gaming sector, approached political parties.

They requested that legalisation and any regulations regarding gambling be considered under the centralised authority. They based this request on the potential of profitability and reduction in illegal activities in gambling such as match-fixing. This will further create jobs when it becomes an established sector.

AIGF has stated they are working towards collaboration with government organisations. In this collaboration, they are hoping to launch 26% FDI for legal activities in gambling.

This does not only reduce the possibility of exploitation it hits two birds with two stones. It would improve the economy and gaming world.

Acts for Restriction of Online-Gaming

There have been other attempts by government organisations to regulate online gambling. Before there was nothing in online gaming that was considered illegal by the government.

This steadily changed as the Information Technology Act 2000 came and disallowed publishing and sharing gambling information online. Although, it was found that there was no law preventing them from doing so. There was also no law against betting on websites.

Another Act was the Federal Information Technology Act. This was meant to restrict online gambling and related activities online. Under this Act, internet service providers were held responsible to provide information on casinos and gambling sites.

Furthermore, they were responsible for blocking them so the Indian players could not access them. This like Information technology also failed to prohibit Indian users from registering and participating in online casinos and sports betting.

Changes to Online Gambling Legislation     

Considering the growing gambling industry, it is expected that there would be positive changes that will be made for gambling legislation. The Indian government is expected to upgrade or amend gambling laws.

It may also mark activities legal and illegal. State governments have already started working towards it. The first license was issued to Future Gaming Solutions Private Ltd. They are now allowed to make betting games where players can win real money.    

Secure Online Sites in India

Several websites are operating in India. But which one is secure to use? You may come across a site that has a good look and feel but may not be the most secure site. When looking for a casino or betting site there are many considerations. When looking for the best gambling site keep the following in mind:

  1. The site should be licensed and regulated by trustworthy authorities. Preferably by the MGA.
  2. The company should be practicing ethical functions and have legal casino operations. 
  3. The website or app should be safe and secure by using data encryption software technology, to provide their players with personal and financial protection. 
  4. The website or app must be operating under a trustworthy and respectable gambling brand.
  5. Always check for reviews and comments on different platforms. 
  6. Good gambling sites have numerous options for games. They offer sporting events and casino games. 
  7. They are verified by a prominent authority.
  8. The good sites will also have good customer service. 
  9. New players are mostly offered welcome bonus packages. Regular players are also offered promotions.
  10. There are several ways to withdrawal and deposits. The payment options should have faster processing times and accept most currencies. 
  11. The apps and sites also have good pay-outs and better device compatibility. 

The long list of considerations may stress you out. However, if you do not look out for all these things you may get stuck with the wrong gambling site.

Look at the list of well-known betting and casino sites provided in this article. They were selected after going through several reviews and have the required features.

There are so many sites operating out of India and other international ones that are well-loved. They offer a wide range of games and promotions. Instead of trying out all the sites to find one fit for you. The many considerations can leave people confused.

These websites are regulated and are some of the best in India and around the world. They offer a thrilling and secure experience with a good game selection and better stream quality as compared to others.

The following are the best websites and apps providing top-rated and legal experience:

· LeoVegas: this website is from a Swedish company and offers online casino and sports betting services such as slots, poker, jackpots and several sports from international areas. 

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· JeetWin: JeetWin is one of the best online casinos and betting sites in India. They have a variety of innovative and unique games. They also offer live games hosted by celebrities. 

· Betway: Betway is an international site operated by a global company. They offer several sports and casino games through their subsidiaries such as Betway Casino, Betway Sportsbook, Betway Poker and Betway Bingo. 

· Bet365: another International platform operating and well-loved in India is bet365. It is operated out of the UK and is one of the largest gambling platforms in the world. 

· Royal Panda: this website caters to those looking for a fun and safe online experience. They aim to make all the players feel special. It is one of the easiest platforms to use. 

·  Pure casino: this gambling platform offers users more than 700 casino games. This legal casino site has been made specifically for Indian players.

These casinos are considered some of the best around the world. They have excellent games, live betting, live streaming of sports, and more features.

Players are allowed to make deposits and withdrawals. All these sites let users to this through several payment options. Some even let players make credit or debit card payments.

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Final Say

Now that you have information about the current legal landscape of India you can make an informed decision. With the casino options, you can experience exciting games. Now that you know that there are several websites you can use to gamble in India.

Just make sure that the site you use fulfils the requirements of a good gambling platform. If you are inexperienced you can try your luck with free casino and betting sites where you do not have the risk of losing money. Once you understand the art of playing and the strategies needed you can start making real money.