Betting is becoming more popular in India as a result of major international operators making their betting platforms available in languages such as Hindi, Bengali, and Kannada, as well as accepting payments in Indian rupees. International operators with mobile betting apps are especially popular in India, where more than 90% of Indian gamers play on their smartphones. However, gambling laws in India are somewhat perplexing. The central government outlawed gambling activities in the country, making gambling illegal; however, not everything qualifies as “gambling.” In this article, we will look at the sports betting laws in five Indian states.
A Few Words On The Gambling Definition
According to provisions from Indian laws, betting on games of skill is allowed while betting on luck is not allowed. The question that needs to be answered here is, how does one know what games fall under skill or chance? To solve this problem, India’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that in a way distinguished games of chance and games of skill. Based on the ruling laid out by the Supreme Court, games like poker, rummy, and horse races cannot be considered as games of chance. Under these premises, these games cannot be classified as games of chance and not within the jurisdiction of this law.
The same logic is applied to gambling websites or e-casinos. The Constitution also mentions in the 34th Entry of its List II of the 7th Schedule that each state in India is rightfully empowered to issue its laws regarding gambling activities. So in this article, we would be looking at some states in India and their peculiar laws when it comes to gambling.
Sikkim has been a gambling haven for gamblers for a very long time. It was the very first state in India to legalize online gambling and today the state is open to both sports betting and casino resorts. It has a population of about 600,000 people. The state government also runs a lottery game called Playwin which is quite popular across the country. There are legal casinos in Sikkim which are Casino Sikkim and Casino Mahjong. These casinos run slot machines, poker games, roulette, and all types of games typical of a legal casino. The gambling licenses offered in Sikkim also allow for gambling on several sports activities like football, crickets, and rugby. In essence, there’s legal casino and sports betting in Sikkim.
Gambling in the state of Goa is regulated by the Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act of 1976. Alongside Daman and Sikkim, Goa is one of the states where gambling is well legalized. With a population of a little below 1.5 million people, there’s a big market for gamblers in Goa. Delta Corp Ltd, the only listed gambling company in India operates a majority of the offshore casinos in Panaji, Goa. The state has about 10 Casinos, with six of them land-based casinos and the other four floating casinos that are domiciled in the Mandovi river. According to the Gambling Act of 1976, Casinos can only be set up by 5-star hotels or offshore vessels that have been backed by the government. While most international visitors come to Goa for the beaches, the 5-star hotel settings in Goa benefit from being able to offer a grand gambling experience, as well as exquisite food and drinks to complement the beach vacation.
3. Andhra Pradesh
While gambling is still not legal in the state, there have been reports of plans to have floating casinos like those in Goa on its Visakhapatnam coast to generate resources. The state is currently passing through some financial difficulties and is exploring the opportunity that the gambling industry has to offer. The state still runs a lottery service like few states in India with betting on horse races allowed also. There’s a race racing event at Hyderabad Racecourse in Malakpet which draws a lot of attention whenever there’s an event. For a state with about 85 million people living in it, it won’t come as much of a surprise if online gambling is legalized very soon.
4. Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state in India with a population of almost 200 million people who are diehard cricket fans. Gambling is still largely illegal here with the state going as far as imprisoning repeated offenders for gambling-related activities. Despite all these, the state also runs the rather popular Playwin lottery and there are also concrete plans to legalize casinos in recent years. Online gambling is also thriving in the state, with gamblers utilizing various means to bet on their favourite sports which haven’t gone unnoticed by authorities in the state.
5. West Bengal
While online gambling is still illegal in West Bengal, it is still one of the few states that fully adopt the Chance vs. Luck approach to gambling. Thus games like poker, rummy, and flush are legal and can be played anywhere and anytime. West Bengal also regularly organizes lottery games under the West Bengal Lottery Regulation Act of 1998. Betting on horse racing is also allowed with the Kolkata Race Course the biggest horsing event in the state.
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