The world is rapidly moving to a progressive and liberal point of view concerning gambling. While some parts of the world still have ongoing restrictions on brick and mortar gambling, other places have fully-functional and popular gambling setups and fandom. However, in India, the status of gambling is either non-existent or ancient. No government or parliamentary procedures have been able to put forward a justified and clarified legal framework around this realm. For centuries now, India has failed to determine a clear state of gambling, ironically, being one of the countries where some of the most popular gambling games were invented.
Indians love gambling and it has been made pretty evident over the centuries of its full-fledged practice. Sources believe that the Indian betting market is worth over $200 billion- and this is only the sports betting numbers. Nonetheless, in the current socio-political state, it is hard to get done with the debate of whether or not different forms of gambling are legal, or should be legalized.
To clarify the status of gambling, we have compiled the information from legitimate sources and brought to you this ultimate guide to legal gambling in India.
Is Gambling Legal In India
Starting with the biggest question first. And the answer is, nobody knows, not even the lawmakers. The reason is that the various amendments in the constitution after the first act prohibiting gambling have never been clarifying enough to come to a definite answer to the question. Hence, gambling in India continues to be in a grey area until someone cares to create related laws.
Now, heading on to an all the more confusing part- there are some places where some forms of gambling are legal and other places where other forms are legal. Confused?
Let’s boil it down.
According to Seventh Schedule Entry 34 List II in the Constitution of India, each state was handed over the responsibility to legalize or ban gambling. These laws enacted in the state will solely remain within the borders of that state and not affect any cross-border areas. Post the enactment of this provision, few states completely legalized gambling within borders, while others took the chance to completely prohibit it.
Even so, the Indian lawmakers went rouge and declared some forms of gambling as legal throughout the country. Resultantly, lottery, Rummy, which is considered a game of skill, and horse-race betting, have been legalized in the country with a few exceptions.
Right after this law came into the eyes of citizens, the debate of gambling legalization sparked more frivolously. The reason is that some forms of gambling that share the same characteristics or skillsets have been completely overlooked by the government. For instance, cricket betting and horse betting are of the same kind, yet one gets a legal pass and the other doesn’t. Ironically, horse betting can be easily fixed while cricket is a globally enjoyed sport and does not have a lot of provision for unfair play at such a large scale. Another example is rummy and Teen Patti that require almost the same skillset but not the same legal status.
Long gone are the days of easy gambling fun with Matka gambling and Satta. Now you can only gamble in a few states on a few formats in a few manners. It sweats us too.
Status of Gambling in Different States
If you are a gambling enthusiast and enjoy traveling, sit down with a pen and paper to write this down.
29 states and 9 Union Territories. 29 plus 9 different rules for gambling. As aforementioned, each state is free to enact its own rules for gambling. Additionally, the central government has no authority to intervene in these proceedings. But out of all these, not all states have taken enough time to consider the different factors associated with gambling and the different formats available to the players. Conclusively, the laws of gambling in most states are only half clear.
To date, maximum Indian states have prohibited gambling in a few of its forms. Only 13 states have legalized lottery while two states have legalized other forms of gambling as well. Sikkim and Goa are the only two states with legal brick and mortar casinos, Sikkim being the only one to address and legalize online casinos. Maharashtra, on the contrary, has banned all forms of gambling and casinos.
Lottery, sports betting, and Rummy are also legal in a few of these remaining states.
History of Gambling in India
Have you heard enough about the atrocities the colonial rule put India through? Here’s another one.
Back in the days when tigers used to smoke, India was a happy-go-lucky, filthy rich, and hopelessly divided country where people used to love gambling and enjoy with friends. Then came the East India Company to rule the country and ruin all the happiness our ancestors ever had.
While making all the efforts to wreck the life of Indians, the British colonizers had the notorious idea to impose their morals in the Indian subcontinent probably so that they could feel at home. In an attempt of achieving the same, they enacted the Public Gambling Law of 1867 that prohibited all forms of gambling in India. To our sheer disappointment, this 200-year-old law is still in action to date.
There are 24 legislations in the constitution after the Public Gambling Act of 1867 but none have been able to clear the blinding layer around gambling.
Is Online Gambling Legal In India
So far we have covered everything which clarifies that nobody knows where India is going with its gambling decisions. Fortunately, this is one of the formats of gambling which gets the benefit of the doubt and hence remains legal in most parts of India.
Online casinos are a global industry. The Indian government has no jurisdiction over the international authorities that license and operate casinos in India. To regulate gambling, the Indian government attempted to enact two laws, neither of which have been remotely successful in preventing players from accessing gambling platforms. This can be seen clearly by the fact that several casinos have added INR as an accepted currency and also feature Indian market-oriented games.
Since there are no headquarters, no servers, or no advertising going around in the country, there’s nothing the Indian government can do about controlling or regulating online gambling in the country. With this, it can be concluded that despite there being no clarifications about the laws governing gambling in any format in India, Online gambling remains in the blind spot, hence not at all on the illegal radar of the authorities.