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India Online Gambling Laws – Full Summary

Most Recent Law

Updated January 3, 2016

In May of 2011, the Federal Government of India made it illegal for online gambling in India. The source of this law is the new Federal Internet Technology rules which in short says that anything considered offensive, illegal or taboo was to be against the law. While online gambling has never specifically been made illegal in India, this new law does cover internet gambling and gaming sites that accept wagers on poker, casinos or sports may be in line for fines, or having their website blocked off completely from India.

There have been reports of some gaming sites already blocking players from India at their own will but not at the IP level, ie: filtering out computers located in India and blocking them. Despite this law, it is the State’s right to allow online gambling. One such state to continue doing so is Sikkim.

No Laws That Prohibit Gambling

Up until recently there were no laws that prohibited online gambling in India. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 did not cover internet gambling because, well, the internet did not exist. There has been a back and forth debate over whether this law covered online gambling sites. Despite this many people were betting online. The PBA of 1867 mentioned that games of skill were ok, therefore many have argued that both poker and sports betting were legal. There has been conclusive evidence that both are deemed skill, despite many lawmakers turning a blind eye to this fact.

States Have the Choice

The States and Unions of India have the choice to allow gambling as they see fit. Goa and Sikkim are the two primary places where people can gamble in India via land based casinos, or boats. Sikkim adapted online wagering in their state. Because of this many online gaming sites have sought out partners in India. The likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill, and Betfair to name a few would have to partner with an Indian entity to be allowed access to a license to operate in India. This is the most sought out market by betting sites in recent years due to the growing middle class and exploding internet usage penetration growth.

Government Wants Legal Sports Betting

In contrary to the recent induction of the Federal IT Act, the government of India has motioned they DO want to allow sports betting in India. Even the CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has expressed extreme concerns to make betting on cricket legal to curb illegal wagers whereas the revenues made by these illegal outfits are said to possibly fund terror and crime.

With a $60 Billion market for online gaming, $40 million of that being illegal sports wagers there is not only much opportunity for the states and government of India to capitalize on what is currently going to waste put to put an end to the illegal outfits. Cricket is the most bet on sport in India therefore sees much corruption due to sports betting. Up to INR 6 billion is bet on cricket per year in India. Many believe legalizing it would provide transparency and stop much of the match fixing that goes on.

What Is Exactly Legal in India

The only games that have been legalized are horse racing and lotteries. As you know lotteries are not games of skill and horse racing is just as much skill as betting on other sports. This hypocrisy by the government has been largely criticized. Read more about what is legal and illegal in India.

Gambling in Different Currencies

There is a law on the books that make it illegal to gamble by using different currencies other than Rupees. Some try to get around the law with many online gambling companies allowing the use of ewallets such as Paypal, Neteller or Moneybooker to deposit into the intermediary with Rupees, play at the gambling site in whatever currency they choose, then withdraw back to their bank in Rupees again.

Another way some feel they avoid this law is by depositing with certain sports portals, online casinos and poker rooms that allow the option of depositing in Rupees.

Conclusion

It isn’t very clear. While there certainly are activities that are clearly illegal and some that are clearly legal, the¬†internet and recent rulings by various courts have thrown a lot of gray area into the mix. There is currently legislation that aims to address the associated issues. However, even with this uncertainty, online gambling is as popular as ever and stands to become even more so as India continues to develop and prosper giving people more money for entertainment, including gambling.