Is Online Gambling Illegal In India

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Generally speaking, online gambling is neither legal, nor it is illegal in India due to the fact that there is no direct mention of it in the Public Gambling Act from 1867. Moreover, the legal situation becomes even more complicated due to the fact that the Indian Constitution grants the separate states the right to autonomically govern. Gambling involves risking something of value on an uncertain event in hopes of winning something of greater value. In almost every Indian state casino, cricket betting, gambling is illegal. But lottery, lotto tickets, lucky draws etc are permitted. Gambling Laws in India. Gambling in India is only partly legal. Most Indian states consider gambling to be an illegal activity under various central as well as state laws. For instance, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh have adopted the Public Gambling Act from 1867, which makes gambling illegal in these states. Online Casinos is legal in most of the states in India. If your online gambling site possess all the certifications from Government of India & stands on all formulate laws for gambling activities then the authenticity of such sites can be trusted. Please enable Javascript and refresh the page to continue Is online gambling legal in India? The British ruled India. A game is classified as a skill game based on the outcome of the game which predominantly depends on the skills of the players and not on a chance event and hence is considered legal in all aspects including in social settings, clubs, casinos and online. Although gaming practices date back to.

Gambling in India varies by state as states in India are entitled to formulate their own laws for gambling activities. Some states like Goa have legalised casinos. Common gambling activities like organized betting is restricted except for selective categories including lotteries and horse racing.

In the 21st century, more people have started making cash bets upon prohibited betting and gambling activities in India. Critics of gambling claim that it leads to crime, corruption and money laundering. However, proponents of regulated gambling argue that it can be a huge source of revenue for the state. Casinos in Goa contributed Rs. 135 crores to the state revenue in 2013.[1]

Casinos now operate in Goa, Daman and Sikkim.[2]


Gambling is a state subject, and only states in India are entitled to formulate laws for gambling activities within their respective states. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a central law that prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. The penalty for breaking this law is a fine of 200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. Additionally, this Act prohibits visiting gambling houses. A fine of 100 or imprisonment of up to one month is the penalty.[3]

Indian law classifies games into two broad categories viz. game of skill and game of chance. The Supreme Court of India has, for instance, held[4]

The game of Rummy is not a game entirely of chance like the ‘three-card’ game mentioned in the Madras case to which we were referred. The ‘three card’ game which goes under different names such as ‘flush’, ‘brag’ etc. is a game of pure chance. Rummy, on the other hand, requires a certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorised and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of Rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill.


The Information Technology Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India does not mention the word Gambling or Betting thereby the act was left for interpretation by the Courts which have refused to examine the matter. Further, online gambling is a banned offense in the state of Maharashtra under the 'Bombay Wager Act'.

Only three states allow casinos, Goa , Daman and Sikkim.[5] There are two casinos in Sikkim called Casino Sikkim and Casino Mahjong and 10 in Goa, of which six are land based and four are floating casinos that operate on the Mandovi River. The floating casinos in Goa are Casino Deltin Royale, Casino Deltin Jaqk, Casino Pride and Casino Pride 2. While the first two are controlled by the Deltin Group, the latter two are managed by the Pride Group. According to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 casinos can be set up only at five star hotels or offshore vessels with the prior permission of the government. This has led the Deltin Group to open the first land based Casino in Daman which is open now. News reports also suggest that Visakhapatnam is also being looked on as the next casino destination.[6]


Online gambling is in its infancy in India, but Sikkim planned to offer three online gambling licences in 2010. This failed despite India being the most sought out country for online gambling.[7] Sikkim also permits an online lottery, which takes bets from players throughout India. It was expected that other states would follow Sikkim, thereby opening up a major online gambling market throughout India.

Even though Indian casinos cannot promote or have sites that promote online gambling games such as casino, sports betting and bingo, it is not illegal for non-Indian casino companies (so called offshore companies) to have sites that focus on Indian players. The only requirement from a legal point of view is that the offshore casinos have to offer Indian Rupees as a payment method for Indian players. Although this is not accurate anymore since January 2020.

Unlicensed gambling is happening regardless, with as much as $60 billion worth of action and $48 billion being directed at Indian cricket alone.


Despite the existing prohibitive legislations, there is extensive illegal gambling throughout the country. The Indian gambling market is estimated to be worth US$60 billion per year, of which about half is illegally bet.[8] According to the Indian National Newspaper, the Chief Executive officer for the International Cricket Council (ICC) said he was in favour of legalising betting in sports. He believes the illegal funds profited are through underground bookies that used the money to fund terrorism and drugs.[9] Many Indian professionals as well as online forums have urged the government to introduce legal but regulated gambling in India to bring the gambling economy out of the grip of mafia and underground dons.[10]

Payment gateways[edit]

One of the biggest obstacles faced by sports bettors in India is the fact that depositing to foreign bookies is extremely difficult. Typically, the majority of users deposit to online bookies using Moneybookers or Neteller. Some attempts to deposit using a Visa or MasterCard may fail. The same is true of online bank transfers. In order to circumvent these blocks, savvy internet users have started to use e wallet services for depositing. These services, enable users to fund an online betting account in Rupees. This is important because it avoid legal issues that may have arisen out of F.E.M.A Foreign Exchange law.

See also[edit]


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  1. ^'Goa casinos contribute Rs 135cr revenue in 2012-13 - Times of India'.
  2. ^Reddem, Appaji. 'NRI bets on Andhra Pradesh, moots casino on the Krishna'. The Hindu. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  3. ^'The Public Gambling Act, 1867'.
  4. ^Sayta, Jay (January 1, 2012). 'LEGALITY OF POKER AND OTHER GAMES OF SKILL: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF INDIA'S GAMING LAWS'(PDF). NUJS Law Review. Archived from the original(PDF) on November 2, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  5. ^Patil, Ajit (28 May 2009). 'Casinos in India'. India Bet. Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  6. ^'Casinos want to gamble on Visakhapatnam'. Deccan Chronicle. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  7. ^Sanjay, Roy (27 October 2009). 'Indian online gambling market set to open up'. India Bet. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  8. ^Thompson, James (27 October 2009). 'Betfair and William Hill target India'. The Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  9. ^'Sports Betting Favoured by ICC'. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  10. ^Ashok, Donnie. 'Jay Sayta, Founder, on how he became an authority in Gambling Laws'. Superlawyer. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
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The legality of betting and gambling has been a subject of extensive debate over the course of many years. Although in India playing of cards and rolling of dice has been in existence since time immemorial, yet, one often comes across the debates on gambling on both legal and ethical fronts. While one section seeks to legalize gambling because of the revenue it might generate for the government, the other section has been reluctant to do so owing to issues like corruption and money laundering that might germinate from it.
While the Law Commission of India, in 2018, in its report on Legalizing of Betting and Gambling in Sports recommended for regulating the gambling industry, no substantial progress has been made in this direction. The commission opined that the inability of the state to completely ban the betting and gambling has lead to corruption in sports which could be resolved if the industry is adequately regulated. This would also lead to generation of revenue to the government.

The Law Commission rightly noted that the ban is not absolute and the industry is highly unregulated. This observation stems from the fact that India has legislations relating to regulation of gambling both at central and state level, which adds to the already existing conundrum. Additionally, the legislations in place often pre-date technological advances and therefore fail to address the recent emergence of online gambling.

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The legislation in place, the Public Gaming Act of 1867, is a federal legislation which outlaws the operation or being the person in-charge of a public gaming house. It states that it is illegal to operate a public gaming house and also prohibits people from visiting gambling houses. The contravention of this law attracts a fine of Rupees 200 or imprisonment upto 3 months. However, the Act is archaic and does not specifically address the aspect of online gambling. The Act itself predates the recent advancements in technology and fails to address online gambling. Due to this fact, millions of people in India indulge in online gambling on sports and casinos.

Another legislation, the Information Technology Act, 2000 regulates cyber activities in India but does not address legality of gambling or betting. The Act does not specifically address online gaming or gambling thereby making no impact on legal position of online gambling.

Is Online Gambling Illegal In India Right Now

Further Entry No.34 of List II of the Constitution of India, 1950 empowers the states to make laws on betting and gambling. Due to this entry, many states in India have their own legislations dealing with gambling and are subject to different interpretations. For example, Bombay Wager Act bans online gambling in the state of Maharashtra and Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 bans gambling in the union territory of Delhi but makes an exception for ‘game of skill’. However, the states of Goa and Sikkim are the only states that have legalized gambling with appropriate licensing requirements and at restricted places. The Goa Gambling Act, 1976 allows playing of cards at off-shore vessel. Sikkim is the only state to have a law on online gaming which is the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008. The Act however was later amended to restrict online gaming activities to physical gaming parlours in Sikkim through the internet.

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In recent past, we have seen mushrooming of online gambling games such as Rummy, Casino etc. where millions of people rush to test their fate. Since, the law does not adequately address the legality of online gambling, this remains a grey area which requires intervention on part of either legislature or judiciary. While in several Supreme Court decisions Rummy has not been held to be gambling, the clarity is still required when it comes to online casinos.

Online Gambling Laws In India

Rummy has been held to be a game of skill similar to horse racing and is therefore legal in India. However, games like Casinos are a game of chance involving high monetary stakes which amounts to gambling as per Public Gaming Act of 1867. This inference is not difficult to draw as the issue that courts consider while deciding on gambling is whether a particular game is a ‘game of skill’ or a ‘game of chance’. Because of this uncertainty there is no organization that operates the online casino in India. So whether online Casinos are legal in India is the question that has a negative answer. However, indulging in online Casino games would not be considered to be illegal if the site is outside the jurisdiction of India. Due to the fact that the laws of India are not applicable to an overseas organization or gaming site, we continue to see an upsurge in the number of people engaging in this activity. Perhaps, the time is ripe for the Indian legislature and judiciary to end this conundrum and regulate the laws relating to online gambling.