Is Gambling Allowed In India

Gambling is totally illegal in most states and central administrated territories except Sikkim,Daman and Goa.The gambling is prohibited in India mostly due to moral characters as well as to curb corruption and money laundering.’’. Gambling is a state subject, only states in India are entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states. Further 7th Schedule entry 34 list II of the Constitution gives power to decide the laws regarding gambling. This act prohibits visiting gambling houses and impose fine of Rs.100 and 1 month imprisonment. Gambling is a state subject, and only states in India are entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states, Goa and Sikkim are the only exceptions which have allowed gambling and betting in their state, subject to regulation of their respective state Governments. Some states like Goa have legalised casinos.

However, gambling is a state subject in India and only states are entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states. Currently, out of 29 states and 7 Union Territories, only 3 of them allow casinos as legal. Which States in India Allow Casinos. The gambling industry in India is regulated on a local level, in every state. There are two exceptions to this rule – traditional lottery and horse racing that are legal in all states. Only three states provide licenses to brick-and-mortar casino venues, while others made such businesses illegal.

Get the full overview of the legal situation of gambling in India right here

Many of our readers have asked us if it’s legal to gamble in India. We understand why many of you are having this concern, so we decided to write this in-depth article to give you the most correct answer and guide you to gamble legally in India. The Indian gambling law is vague and unclear, which makes a lot of people confused. We are all good citizens, and none of us wants to break the law.

Through our own research, we have always believed that gambling is legal in India, but to make the point very clear, we decided to team up with some of India’s top legal experts to make absolutely sure that we are on the right side of the law.

When it comes to gambling, the practice is frowned upon by some Indians and embraced by many others. Gambling is really an issue that divides the country. Some believe it should be fully legal, others believe it should be regulated and some conservatives believe it should be completely prohibited.

But what is the current legal situation of gambling in India? Unfortunately, the answer is not that straightforward. In this article, you will discover how and where you can gamble legally, which depends a lot on where you live and how you intend to gamble.

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Is it legal to gamble in India?

To give you the most correct answer to this question. We have allied ourselves with one of the top legal experts on gambling in India. Mr. Sameer Kapoor Senior Advocate in the Odisha State Bar Council. Through our interview, He will attempt to give us the most legal and correct information in this article. So let’s start from the beginning.

Gambling was first prohibited in India during the colonial period under the Public Gambling Act of 1867. This law made it illegal to offer gambling services on a federal level, as well as to visit and use a public gambling facility. The law did not ake any mention of online gambling, as it was made many years before the invention of the internet.

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So along comes the internet, and people start asking: Does that mean online gambling is legal, because it is not expressly forbidden under the law of 1867? The short answer is yes. If the government of India had wanted to fully prohibit online gambling, they could have amended the law to prohibit online gambling, but they never did that.

Instead, they left it up to the individual states to decide whether or not to legalize or prohibit gambling in their territory. In the state of Maharashtra, online gambling is completely prohibited, whereas, in the states of Sikkim and Goa, online gambling is officially legal and regulated.

In most other Indian states, there are no specific laws regarding online gambling, which makes it a legal grey area. For example, in the state of Tamil Nadu, it is neither legal nor illegal to gamble online. Therefore, it is not a prosecutable offense to gamble online in any state except Maharashtra.

We understand that some people may have different interpretations of the law, but after having consulted with Mr. Manoj Mishra and several other legal experts in India, they have ensured us that online gambling is not a prosecutable offense, and no one has ever been convicted or let alone prosecuted for online gambling.

The law simply states that gambling providers may not operate on Indian territory unless expressly allowed by the individual states. That is why all of the betting sites and online casinos we recommend are located outside India. It is still completely legal and possible for Indian players to start an account and place bets with these online gambling sites.


Horse racing is legal but cricket is not

In 1996, it was decided by the Supreme Court of India that horse race betting should be legal because it is skill-based rather than based on luck. This beckons the question, why is horse race betting based on skill when cricket or football bet is not? It takes at least the same amount of skill to predict the outcome of a cricket match, no?

Although we certainly agree that horse race betting should be legal, it seems completely ridiculous to make this distinction from any other sport. The only reason why policymakers decided to legalize horse race betting, is because they know that if they prohibited this, it would be the end of horse breeding in India, which has become a very profitable and prominent industry in India.

One could then ask, isn’t it kind of hypocritical to say gambling is illegal, but still legalize gambling on a few select sports such as horse racing and rummy? This is a classic example of the contradictory gambling laws of India. The government should be consistent in its policy and legalize gambling on all sports throughout India.

When will gambling be fully legalised in India?

The Indian Government is perfectly aware that many citizens are engaged in online gambling and if they wanted to illegal, they would have amended the current law to include the prohibition of online gambling. This has never been done, which means that online gambling continues to be legal in India to this day.

Now the government of India and many state governments are debating whether to legalize gambling in India completely. We believe that this would be a very smart thing to do. It would allow the government of India to collect taxes on the enormous online gambling industry. Citizens donating all this tax money to foreign governments.

It would help the Indian people feel more comfortable with online gambling. Knowing that not only legal, but also sanctioned and regulated by the federal government of India.

Please note that the information found on this page does not constitute legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions about Indian Gambling Laws

Is it legal to gamble in India?

Do I risk anything by gambling in India?

In our opinion, no. According to some of the top legal experts in India. They do not know anyone who has been prosecuted or convicted for online gambling ever.

Best Casino Sites In India

Online Gaming/Gambling laws in India prohibit betting or wagering and any act which is intended to aid or facilitate the same. Gaming/Gambling being a State subject, gaming/gambling in India have laws which differ from state to state . This would mean what is permitted in one State may be an offence in another. The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is the central enactment on the subject, which has been adopted by certain states of India like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh etc. The other States have enacted their own legislation to regulate gaming / gambling in India activities within its territory. It is to be noted that State Legislations have been enacted prior to the advent of virtual / online gambling in India and therefore references of gaming/gambling in India, in respective state legislatures are in relation to physical premises only, barring Sikkim and Nagaland which are the only States who have introduced regulations pertaining the online gaming.

After going through the State gambling laws for online gambling in India, it is found that, except the State of Orissa and Assam, most of the States have excluded ‘games of skill’ from applicability of its respective gaming/gambling laws. Further, playing certain games including ‘Poker’, both online and offline, is permitted under the laws of West Bengal, Nagaland and Sikkim subject to licence from the appropriate State Authorities. But this would be applicable only in the territorial limits of the respective State. In Goa, gambling is permitted only in Government permitted places operated as casinos.

Is Gambling Allowed In India Currency

The issue of online gambling in India laws in India still remains a grey area which is yet to be adjudicated by Courts of India. Having said that, necessary inferences can be drawn from orders passed by the Court while deciding the issue of whether a particular game is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’. But the issue of whether a ‘game of chance’, if played like a sport without stakes amount to gambling or not? still remains largely undecided.

Game of Skill v. Game of Chance:

There has been a substantial discussion by Supreme Court and High Court on what constitutes a ‘game of skill’ and a ‘game of chance’. What is adduced from the judgments is that a game where there is preponderance of skill over chance is a ‘game of skill’ and vice-versa.

By taking the above ratio into account, SC in the matter of State of AP v. K.Satyanarayana(1968) held the game of Rummy to be a ‘game of skill’. However, the Court in its judgment has indicated that if there is gambling or if the gambling house is making profit from the game of rummy, then it could amount to an offense under the laws of AP. It was further observed by SC that the three card game which goes under different names such as flush, brag, etc. is a game of pure chance. This was relied upon by SC in another its other judgments viz. M.J.Sivani v. State of Karnataka (1995) and Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Anr (1996).

The issue of whether rummy if played with stakes amounts to gambling or not has not been decided by Supreme Court. However, Andra Pradesh High Court in D. Krishna Kumar And Anr. vs State Of A.P.(2002) (Annexure-2) relying upon the SC decision of 1968 held that till such time the state gambling Act is amended to lay down that playing Rummy with stakes is 'gaming', playing Rummy with stakes is not 'gaming' within the meaning of the Act and is therefore allowed.

Delhi District Court: Gaussian Network Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Monica Lakhanpal

The issue of Online Gaming/gambling laws in India was discussed in detailed in the above case when the issue was put up before the Court under Order 36 Rule(1) of CPC by the parties. The Court held the following:

  • Game of skills, if played with stakes does not amount to gambling;
  • Playing games of skill for money is only legal in the real form, online games cannot be compared to real games;
  • Attracting business or enticing players by alluring them with prize money is illegal;
  • Gaming sites partaking a slice on the winning hand are illegal as they amount to a virtual gambling house.

Having said that, the said ruling was rendered infructuous as during the final arguments in the Revision petition, parties sought to withdraw the petition. So the effect being there is no ruling which can be treated as a precedent as regards online gambling.

Gujarat High Court on Poker:

The issue whether Poker is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’ was never discussed in detail by any Court in India until the recent decision/order dated December 4, 2017 passed by Gujrat High Court in Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd. V. State of Gujarat, wherein, the said issue was extensively pondered upon. The Court in its said decision held that Poker is a ‘game of chance’ and therefore amounts to gambling under Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. While arriving at the aforesaid decision, the Court inter alia observed the following:

  • That the game of poker originated from ‘flush’ or ‘Indian teenpatti’ which has been observed by SC as a game of chance in its 1968 judgment and consequently, as a corollary, the game of poker is also to be construed as a game of chance;
  • The game of poker involves a process wherein the players have no control or say on the cards received by them and the final outcome is based on mere luck or chance depending upon how the cards are received by the player. Poker face to bet, would be a part of bluffing or deception and the so-called strategy, cannot be considered as a skill. The outcome also depends on the ability of a player to spend money and how deep are his pockets. It is a game of deceiving, bluffing and duping other players;
  • The game of Rummy is different than Poker. While poker involves betting or wagering, rummy has nothing to do with stakes and betting or wagering is not essential to the game of rummy;
  • The Court while noting the ills of gambling and impact of gambling on the moral fibre of society noted that ‘one must not overlook the ground realities in India or the country like India, where the majority of the population is struggling for the basic necessity and there is lack of awareness amongst the people and if they are permitted by betting in the craze of easy money, they do not know what to do if the things go wrong.’

Mr. K.N Suresh, Secretary of Indian Poker Association has filed an appeal against the said order, being Letters Patent Appeal No. 2625 of 2017 before the Division Bench of Gujarat High Court. The bench after hearing the matter briefly on December 28, 2017 issued notice to the state government and other respondents, and till date the matter is not heard finally. Having said that, since no ad-interim/interim reliefs are granted presently, the Single Judge order stands valid and enforceable.

Though the order does not specifically make any observation on Poker, if played as a sport and/or without stakes, however, while differentiating between rummy and poker, the Hon’ble Court at para 60 of the said order makes a presumption that wagering or betting is an inseparable part of the game of poker and therefore would involve stake. The Court while holding Poker to be a ‘game of chance’ has also predominantly relied upon moral religious and social grounds. In the absence of the said order being overruled and the issue being addressed specifically, the game of poker, even if played as a sport and/or without stakes remains a grey area which is then left at the discretion of police authorities.

Is Online Gambling Allowed In India


Though the issue of Poker was considered by Gujarat High Court in view of the provisions of Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, in arriving at the decision of Poker being a ‘game of chance’, the court made several observations like how the game is played, origin of the game, reference to ancient Indian literature, moral and religious grounds, etc. which may be applied by other states/state machinery having similar gambling laws. The issue is likely to be clarified by Division Bench of Gujarat High Court, once the appeal is finally heard.

In view of the above, it is clear that if a game is considered to be a ‘game of chance’ under the state laws and rulings by the Courts and is played with stakes, would constitute gambling under the respective state laws with exception pertaining to a few states as mentioned above. If an entity is able to show that a particular online game or a particular on-ground gaming activity has preponderance of skill over chance and/or is played as a sport without stakes, it may fall within the exception of gaming/gambling under the state gambling laws. It is pertinent to note however that if online gaming is illegal in any State, the promotion of the same in such State would amount to violation of ASCI Code as well as Cable TV Network Regulation Act, 1994.

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Is Gambling Allowed In India