Everything You Should Know About The Gambling Legislation In India

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by Advik Bakshi
| 03/03/2020
Gambling Legislation In India

According to most historians, the first mentions of gambling on Indian soil are found in the Ramayana, the 15,000-verse Sanskrit masterpiece written by Valmiki and also one of the two great epics of Ancient India, along with the Mahābhārata. As time went by and more social changes occurred in the land, the mentality of the people in relation to sports started to change. Indians began to express more interest in these entertaining activities and the arrival of the Europeans in the country largely contributed to the revamping of gambling.

Fast forward to today's legal status of gambling in India, gamers are highly restricted in terms of gambling activities. They can only engage in casino gameplay in casinos located in three states where casinos are not outlawed or banned. The rest of the states have decided to place bans on all sports wagering and casino gambling activities, as they were allowed to make their own rulings on the matter via the Public Gambling Act. Players in India can also take advantage of the endless number of offshore online casinos that have been designed with the Indian player in mind. Since the Indian gambling legislation does not clearly define the matter of online casinos for real money and online sports betting companies and it does not ban players from the country to access the websites of offshore companies online, they are part of a “grey area” Indians are taking full advantage of.

Let's delve into the topic and find out more about the past, present and future of the gambling scene and the gambling legislation in India in 2021.

Indian Gambling Laws In The Past 

It would seem that gambling was first practised in the form of gambling board games similar to the game of chess. People in Ancient India also seem to have had a passion for dice games and games like devana were often times hosted and played by Kings. The games had their own simple set of rules that players strictly obeyed. This means gambling was not banned or restricted in the ancient times and Indians were allowed to gamble freely. 

Gambling Laws In IndiaThe Ramayana texts also speak about a more casual form of gambling, and it never mentioned gambling as being banned or forbidden in the land. However, the Mahābhārata, the second world-famous Sanskrit epic, started to debate the less favourable aspects of gambling. These were all examples of the way gambling had started to affect Indian families, which is believed to have set the ground for the Gambling Act that would be adopted later on and used today.

In the 15th century, the first regulated and legal gambling houses were open in all parts of the country. The houses respected the severe regulations imposed by local ordinances in order to make sure that all players played by the rules and paid their taxes to the King. Today, these regulations are mostly used for the protection of players.

Once Indians started to embrace cricket as a national sport due to the influence of the British people, the Public Gambling Act was created and introduced in 1867. The Act determined that gambling houses were now outlawed and opening or owning a gambling house was illegal. This, however, did not stop people in the country to further pursue their passion for the sport. Accordingly, Indians started placing bets on cricket in the street, during village gatherings or at home. The Public Gambling Act continued to exert its legal powers in the decades to come and very little changes were brought to it. We can mention here the altering of the law in order to make Paplu (also known as Rummy) a legal activity in the country. Lots of people thought the rules comprised in this Act were not easy to comply with or that they often times lacked common sense and logic. Nonetheless, in spite of the restrictive character of these regulations, they continue to lead the gambling scene in India in the 21st century.

The Current Legal Status Of Gambling In India

Today, gaming in India (slots, blackjack, roulette, poker) is regulated with the help of the Director of Tourism in Daman and Diu, mentioning slots and other electronic games of amusement. The Goa Act in 1976 is the main regulation for the state of Goa and the Sikkim Casino Act in 2002 works similarly for the state of Sikkim. In Sikkim, the Tourism Department is responsible for regulating casino games in their brick-and-mortar form. The state of Diu also regulates land gaming in the country in their land-based format.

Gaming in its digital format is regulated by the state-wise regulations that are against gambling that is called the Gaming Enactments. Most of them consider casino games as a form of gambling, which means they are prohibited in both their offline and online formats. Sikkim has issued licenses that enable online games via intranet networks inside the state, according to the Sikkim Online Gaming Act issued in 2008. 

The game of poker is considered a game of skill more than a game of chance and it has been exempt from the majority of gaming enactments in India, including poker games played in land-based establishments. As for its online variants, poker is only legally and officially regulated by the state of Nagaland, according to the Nagaland Act issued in 2016 which states poker, as well as online poker, is a game of skill. 

The game of Bingo can either be defined as a lottery or a form of gambling, as stated in most gaming enactments since it is a game that relies on pure chance. Those states that define bingo as a form of gambling have prohibited the game within their borders. This is true in both the online and offline formats of gambling.

The Turf Clubs are responsible for regulating physical horse race betting. These clubs are operated under licenses issued by their State Government officials, according to the respective Licensing Legislations. Online, betting on horse races is considered a game of skill and it is not regulated in any way. Sports bets online continue to be debated in the country today, with the Supreme Court still pondering the matter and trying to come up with the answer for it. For now, only Sikiim allows sports betting with the help of an intranet license that only enables sports bets inside the state to be placed online.

Punters in the country can place their wagers with the help of foreign, offshore betting platforms online. Today, punters will easily bet thousands of rupees every time they have the chance, especially when it comes to cricket bets online. If you are looking for some trustworthy platforms online where you can find your favourite casino games such as blackjack, poker, roulette or slots or sports to wager on such as cricket, tennis or football, check out our recommendations for 2020.

The government in the country is still writing off almost all types of gambling activities as addictions, taboos or sins. The old concept of gambling potentially ruining a family or someone's life similarly to the examples given in the Ancient Indian texts continue to be one of the culprits why gambling is frowned upon in 2020. Owning or occupying a gaming house is prohibited and the same goes for giving money to someone who visits these houses. Some Indian states even consider gambling as an offence, including the states of Assam and Orissa. Moreover, the Indian Supreme Court tried to simplify the gambling legislation, but this only led to additional issues arising. They mostly revolve around the fact that the Court ruled that games that mostly require skill are not to be considered gaming. For example, online rummy and horse racing betting are considered games of skills, while that require skills, whereas roulette games or lotteries are labelled as Teen Patti or games that rely on luck.

Responsible Gambling In The Country

Responsible gambling protects players from various threats, both online and offline. When all regulations are put into practice by gaming authorities in the country, they do a great job at keeping vulnerable or underaged players protected. Playing responsibly is a must no matter your level of expertise or your personal preferences in terms of games you like to play.

It is important for gamers to make their pick out of leading casino operators in Europe and other parts of the world. All these offshore platforms are trying to market their products the best way they can in an attempt to attract new customers and turn them into loyal players. The best operators are the ones that have a long history to back them up and who have a pristine reputation, are licensed and closely monitored by trustworthy authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Casino Commission. These authorities are making sure the casinos they issue licenses to are doing a good job at educating players with the help of comprehensive information, aiding them to identify potential gambling addictions, handling it, doing self-checks and imposing timeouts or self-exclusion. All the casinos you can find on our platform have undergone rigorous audits and testing and they have proven to be fully safe and reliable casinos for patrons in India.

The Future Of The Gambling Legislation In India  

Undeniably, however, the country has huge market potential in terms of gambling, sports betting and e-sports, with the biggest global companies making huge investments here, all trying to tap into the huge Indian market and its 1.37 billion inhabitants. 3G and 4G technologies along with the not much-anticipated 5G in 2021 are all enabling players to make full use of their mobile devices at incredible speeds. This means all forms of virtual gaming can be accessed with a few clicks or taps on the screen. However, out of the 29 states and 7 territories in India that are able to freely decide upon their gambling status, only a few have ruled for making gambling legal. These states are Sikkim, Goa, Diu and Daman. Their legislative councils saw the great potential of responsible gambling and decided to give the people within their borders the right to enjoy these activities like hobbies or favourite pastimes. Any other gambling house located outside of Goa, Sikkim, Diu or Daman will be considered a violator of the current Gambling Act and be subjected to a fine and/or jail time. Also, the person managing a gambling house or holding a gambling house in India in any of the other states where gambling is deemed illegal will be asked to pay a fine of Rs 200 fine and/or be sent to hail for up to three months. We can expect to see some serious changes in regards to these laws in the upcoming years, given Indians' desire to tap into land-based and online gambling activities.

Online gambling in India continues to be a grey area, so players can still enjoy a huge number of alternatives that are suitable for their needs, easy to access and amazingly entertaining. Until more states decide to make some changes and allow land casinos to open, domestic players can continue to use the limited brick-and-mortar options in Goa, Sikkim and Daman and access top offshore casinos that are Indian-friendly online 24 hours a day.

At the end of 2018, India recorded 566 million internet users and the figure is projected to reach 730 million by the end of 2020. The considerably enhanced internet connection and the rise in the number of cheap smartphones that locals can afford to buy are turning mobile casinos and other mobile gambling into the future of the gambling industry. Key players industry need to continue to express their interest, and the country will slowly turn into one of the greatest markets in the industry.

Lots of domestic operators continue to run illegal businesses and the huge interest was shown by the public toward online gambling and sports wagering should convince the government to legalise gambling in all parts of India in the near future. The government will also have a lot to win in the form of gambling taxes and fees from operators and winning players alike, so it's a win-win situation we are looking forward to seeing unfold.

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