What’s the Legal Status of Gambling Regulations in India in 2021?
For the most part, online gambling is typically allowed in India. And it’s also important to note that India has a very rich and vibrant gambling culture. However, gambling isn’t fully regulated in most states throughout the nation. For example, in Sikkim, the state government is actively pushing for regulated online gambling legislation that will allow for the… Read More »
For the most part, online gambling is typically allowed in India. And it’s also important to note that India has a very rich and vibrant gambling culture. However, gambling isn’t fully regulated in most states throughout the nation. For example, in Sikkim, the state government is actively pushing for regulated online gambling legislation that will allow for the industry to grow and prosper under government regulation. In stark contrast, the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra have taken hardline stances against online gambling in their respective territories. Although, it’s worth noting that even though online gambling is illegal in these areas, no Indian local has ever been charged with illegal online gambling.
The online gambling situation in India is just a microcosm of the larger gambling industry as a whole. This is because recreational gambling is considered a state-level governance issue in the country. This means that individual states have the power and mandate to determine the regulations and restrictions that govern various forms of betting and gaming activity. There are a few federal laws that somewhat affect the gambling industry in the country, but they’re rather outdated even though they cover both physical and online gambling.
Outdated Federal Legislation
When it comes to federal gambling laws, the first major piece of legislation that one must be aware of is the Public Gambling Act of 1867. At the time of its passage into law, the Public Gambling Act only applied to the ten states that were still under the colonization of the British empire. Today, the law applies to any Indian state that has not established its own independent casino gaming and betting laws. Within the Act, it’s mentioned that it’s illegal for anyone in India to operate or participate in an organized gambling activity. However, there is a very important provision within the law that states that skill-based games are not considered as gambling. This is where the grey area of gambling legislation in India gets really complicated. There is no clear definition of what a skill-based game truly is. There have been many disputes in the government’s Supreme Court on skill-based games, but the most definitive precedent was one that was set in 1996. According to the ruling, the predominant factor, whether it be chance or skill, will dictate whether a game counts as gambling or not. Despite this ruling, there’s still so much room for ambiguity when it comes to determining whether games are considered luck-based or skill-based.
Is Online Gambling Legal?
Another important piece of legislation to know about is the Information Technology Act of 2000. This is only relevant because of the proliferation of online gambling sites around the world. Even though the Indian population is particularly fond of recreational gambling as a pastime, online gambling is an industry that is amassing much success all throughout the world. The Information Technology Act is an important piece of federal legislation that covers any type of online activity—thus, presumably, online gambling as well. However, there are no specific provisions within the Information Technology Act that say that online gambling is illegal. In fact, the law doesn’t even explicitly mention gambling in any way whatsoever. The only relevant provision within this piece of legislation to the world of online gambling is the one that grants government the right to block foreign websites as it deems necessary. This is relevant because online casino operators are not allowed to establish operations within India. However, it’s not that hard to find an online casino in India. This only means that the Indian public can only participate in online gambling through offshore operators that have licenses from other countries around the world. While it’s perfectly legal for citizens to access these sites, it’s been noted that the Indian government has already made efforts to mandate internet service providers to block access to specific gambling websites.
The Future of Gambling in India
Currently, only the states of Sikkim and Goa are making drastic efforts to legalize gambling in their respective jurisdictions. While gambling as a recreation is indeed popular all throughout India, the rest of the states aren’t making much progress on the matter with some of them even restricting the growth of the industry. Only time will tell whether federal legislation will be passed to regulate the industry in the future.