Indian Gambling Laws: Is Online Gambling Legal in India?
There are no specific laws in India that prohibit online gambling.
Although the Public Gambling Act of 1867 deems running a public gambling house in India illegal, this outdated act has not been amended to bring online gambling under its ambit.
As such, online gambling lies in a grey zone in terms of legality.Show less
LIST OF LEGAL ONLINE CASINOS IN INDIA 🏆
So, Is It Safe to Gamble Online?
We are here to ensure that you enjoy online gambling in a safe and fair environment.
All the online gambling sites mentioned on our website have been rigorously examined, and our aim is to let you enjoy the thrill of betting in a legal manner.
As mentioned, in the absence of clear laws, there is some degree of ambiguity regarding the legal status of gambling. However, in practical terms, players belonging to any part of India excluding Maharashtra, can safely register on offshore sites and place bets online.
Gambling in India
Let us examine what constitutes gambling in India and the acts associated with it. We will discuss individual games like horse racing, poker, and lotteries.
Finally, we will also take into consideration how the income generated from gambling sites is received and taxed.
Chance VS Skill
In order to judge the legality of a game, Indian law makes a distinction between “games of chance” and “games of skill“. Gambling is a “game of chance”, because the element of chance is greater than the element of skill. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 deems all such games of chance illegal.
However, “games of skill” are excluded under the aforementioned act; so, any activity in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance is considered legal. What does and does not involve skill is debatable, and therefore, Indian law chooses to make such decisions “on the facts and circumstances of each case” (Manoranjitham Manamyil Mandram v State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 2005 MAD 261).
So, for example, in 1968, the Supreme Court of India held that Rummy is a game of skill and therefore outside the purview of gambling law:
“The game of Rummy is not a game entirely of chance…It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill. The chance in Rummy is of the same character as the chance in a deal at a game of bridge.” (State of Andhra Pradesh v K. Satyanarayana and Ors)
This is why Rummy is absolutely legal in India. Similarly, fantasy sports like Dream11 are also legal because they require players to use analytical skills and experience in making team selections.
Onlinecasino-India is a free public resource site, and is not affiliated with the Indian government or any Government agency.
This content was created by studying different laws regarding gambling in India and getting legal advice from lawyers.
The Public Gambling ACT 1867
The Public Gambling Act 1867, is a central law that prohibits running a public gambling house as well as visiting one. Most states in India have adopted the central act and prohibited all kinds of gambling and betting.
But Indian state governments have the authority to make state-specific laws to regulate gambling. This power has been exercised by the following states:
Goa and Daman: The Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976, allows casinos to operate within both the states. The casinos require the permission of the government and can be set up only in five-star hotels or offshore vessels. Goa is the number one choice of vacation for youngsters, and its casinos generate over Rs 100cr in revenue.
Nagaland: Through the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016, the state government is issuing an online skill games license. The licensees will be legally allowed to host online games that require skill (over chance), even if they involve wagers or bets. Another north northeastern, Sikkim, had planned to offer online gambling licenses in 2010, but this decision was not followed through.
Maharashtra: Betting on horse races is the only legalized form of gambling in Maharashtra. The Bombay Wager Act even prohibits online gambling. However, this law is also ambiguous, since it only prohibits bookmakers based in India. Indian players can still register with offshore betting agencies, so the Maharashtra state government has not blocked access to their websites.
Online Gambling and its Legality in India
Cyber activities in India are regulated by the Information Technology Act 2000. This act, however, does not mention the word gambling or betting. Therefore, we are only left with the outdated Public Gambling Act.
As mentioned earlier, The Public Gambling Act was enacted in the 19th century and has not been amended in recent times to take online gambling into consideration. Therefore, currently, there is no central law in India that prohibits online gambling.
A few states have made state-specific laws, but even they do not restrict dealings with international bookmakers. As such, we can say that online gambling is legal in India when done through offshore agencies.
Is Betting Legal in India?
Legally illegal, but you can bet online in India using online betting sites.
If there is one thing that truly unites the diverse people of India, it is cricket.
Betting on Cricket
Like all forms of gambling, betting on cricket games in a public gambling house is illegal in India. However, as we have been discussing so far, betting on cricket games online is under a grey area of legality.
Online betting websites allow players to bet on every single aspect of the game, from a dropped catch by some player to runout in particular over. As IPL takes India by storm each year, fantasy sports like Dream11 and betting websites thrive all over the country, with the best players actively promoting various platforms.
Betting on Horse Races
In 1996, the Supreme Court of India ruled that betting on horse races is not a ‘game of chance’ as it requires evaluative skills and factors such as the jockey’s management.
So, betting on horses at any of the nine racecourses in India is legal. Online websites also allow players to make bets for international events such as America’s Kentucky Derby, Japan Cup, etc.
Is Online Casino Legal in India
Just like all other online gambling activities, there are no clear laws for online casino and online poker. Although public casinos are legally allowed to operate only in the states of Goa, Daman and Sikkim, online casinos remain in an ambiguous legal territory until the Public Gambling Act, 1867 is amended. Below are a few mentioned casino games and its types.
|Table Games||Includes games that are played against the casino and operated by live croupiers. E.g. blackjack, craps, roulettes and baccarat.|
|Gaming Machines||These do not require the involvement of casino employee and are played by one player at a time. E.g. Slot machine, pachinko|
|Random Number Ticket Games||Includes games that are based upon the selection of random numbers and can be played at a table or through the purchase of paper tickets or cards. E.g. keno, bingo|
Is Poker Legal in India?
As mentioned earlier, all games of skill are exempted under the Public Gambling Act. In recent times, two High Court judgments have significantly helped in giving poker a legal status.
In 2013, the High Court of Karnataka adjudicated that poker, if played as a game of skill, is legal and does not require a license; the police cannot interfere in such games.
Similarly, the Calcutta High Court declared that because poker is not specifically mentioned in the West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competitions Act, 1957, the police should not enter rooms where such games are being organized unless there is a specific complaint.
For online poker, as for all other online gambling activities, there are no specific laws that prohibit it. Considering all of this, especially the decisions of the two High Courts, we can considerably say that playing online poker is legal.
|Texas Hold’Em||The most popular form of poker. Two cards, called hole cards, are dealt face-down to each player. Then five community cards are dealt face-up in 3 stages.|
|Omaha Hi||This is another popular form of Poker. It is quite similar to hold ’em, but instead of two, there are three hole cards.|
|Seven-Card Stud||A variant of stud poker, it used to be the most popular form of poker before hold ‘em took over. Each player receives their own individual hand, some cards face-up, some face-down.|
Lottery and its Legality in India
In India, lottery is legal in 13 states: Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim, Nagaland and Mizoram.
Lottery, despite being a large source of revenue for the government, is banned in half of the country because of the ruinous impact it can have on vulnerable groups, especially young people.
The legal status of online lottery is, again, ambiguous because of the lack of clear laws. International lottery agencies like Lottoland of UK are able to freely sell tickets to Indian residents, because there are currently no laws on online gambling. Therefore, playing online lottery through offshore sites is legal in India.
The Future of Gambling in India
There have been many debates about the legal status of gambling in India. Many argue that it should remain prohibited because in a developing country like India, where the majority of the population is poor, gambling will be done irresponsibly and it can financially ruin families.
On the other hand, many suggest that banning gambling is no solution at all, as gambling continues to happen illegally.
Rather, it is better to set up a regulatory framework that will create employment and generate revenue from licenses as well as taxes on winnings. Proper regulations will take illegal gambling out of mafia’s grip and bring it under the law’s purview.
Even the former chief executive of ICC, Ehsan Mani, was in favor of legalizing betting in sports. He argued that the illegal funds profited through underground bookies are used to fund drugs and terrorism.
Considering the rapidly growing online gambling industry in India, lawmakers need to enact a well-defined law that takes this industry into consideration.
Many professionals and forums have urged the government to introduce legal but regulated gambling in India. This will protect vulnerable people from unwise betting, provide a fairer environment, and most importantly, it will help in avoiding crimes like match-fixing.
Until clear laws are enacted, online gambling remains in a grey area of legality.
However, in practical terms, we can say that online gambling is considered safe because no specific law prohibits it.
Royal Panda is an online gambling platform based in Malta, Europe. Until clear laws are enacted, online gambling remains in a grey area of legality. In practical terms, however, we can say that playing Royal Panda is considerably safe because there is no specific law that prohibits online gambling.
As per the Public Gambling Act of 1867, any person found guilty of running a public gambling house is liable to a fine of ₹200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. This 19th century law, however, has not been amended to take online gambling into consideration. As such, we can say that online gambling is currently non-punishable.
Casumo is also based in Malta, Europe. Since the Public Gambling Act of 1867 only prohibits running a public gambling house within India, without making any mention of online agencies based offshore, we can say that playing Casumo is legal in India.
All kinds of gambling or betting in public spaces are banned in India. However, states are entitled to make their own gambling laws. This is why, states like Goa, Daman and Sikkim have casinos. Besides these, Indian residents can play on online casinos because there is currently no prohibition on online gambling.
Showlion was founded in 2019 and is one of the newest players in the online gambling industry. It caters specifically to Indian audience and is one of the few sites that allow IMPS. Showlion online casino is safe in India because there are currently no laws that prohibit online gambling.
Mostbet is owned by a Russian company called Starbet N.V. Since the current gambling laws in India do not prohibit online bookings made internationally, Mostbet is legal in India and players can safely make bets through their website.
Gambling comes under the purview of the Public Gambling Act, 1867. This act prohibits running or being in charge of a gambling house in India. But it has not been amended to take online gambling into consideration. Since most bookmakers are based offshore, they are outside the jurisdiction of Indian law, and can safely provide their services to Indian players.
Skyexchange is another online betting website. It is legal to play on Skyexchange as there is no law that prohibits online gambling.
LeoVegas provides online casino and sports betting services. It is a Swedish mobile gaming company. In the absence of clear laws on online gambling, we can say that using LeoVegas is legal and players can safely make bets online.
Royal Win is a popular gambling website based in Philippines. Being an offshore agency, it is outside the purview of Indian law and its gambling laws. Therefore, using Royal Win is legal in India.
4raBet is another popular betting platform based in Curaçao, a Caribbean island. Since currently there are no laws concerning online gambling in India, players can safely register and bet on 4raBet.
Not only online but offline horse betting is also allowed in India. The Supreme Court adjudicated that betting on horse races is a game of skill, hence it is exempted from the Public Gambling Act, 1867. Players can make bets on any of the 9 racecourses in India and also use online horse betting services.
1xBet is owned by Cyprus-based Company 1 X Corp N.V. Being an offshore betting agency, it is not prohibited by the Gambling Law of India, and players can safely use 1xBet.
Based in United Kingdom, Bet365 is one of the most popular betting platforms in the world. Until the Public Gambling Act is amended to consider online gambling, it is safe for players to use Bet365.
Offline lottery is allowed only 13 states but banned in the remaining half of the country. Online lottery is a grey zone in terms of legality, and players can use online lottery services to a considerably safe degree.
Betaway is another major international gambling platform that holds licenses in UK, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, and several other countries. Since there are no laws prohibiting online gambling, players in India can safely use Betaway.
Although offline lottery is banned in half of the states in India, there are no clear regulations about online lottery. Hence, we can say that players are considerably safe when it comes to online international lottery.
Pokerstars is the largest real money online poker site in the world. Players can safely play online poker because currently there are no laws against online gambling.
Indian law considers any “game of chance” gambling and prohibits it from being played publicly. However, two recent High Court judgments have given poker the status of a “game of skill”, hence exempting it from the Public Gambling Act. As such, players can play poker in private spaces, but we recommend playing online poker and being safer.
Most states have currently not made any state-specific laws against online gambling. Even at the central level, the Public Gambling Act has not been amended to take online gambling into consideration. Therefore, we can say that playing online poker is safe in India.
Adda52 also mentions the High Court judgments to argue that poker is a game of skill and therefore cannot be prohibited in any sense. As per their guidelines, they allow players from all states and union territories except Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Nagaland, Sikkim and Telangana; the exceptions are due to ambiguous state-specific laws of the respective states.
Two recent High Court judgments have adjudicated that poker actually requires a lot of skill and cannot be considered a “game of chance”. Hence it is not considered a kind of gambling. However, India still needs to have a comprehensive law about the recent kinds of offline and online gambling. Till then, we can say that players are considerably safe to gamble online.
Goa is one of the few states in India that has exercised its power to make state-specific laws about gambling. Not only Poker but all kinds of gambling activities are allowed in the Casinos of Goa. These gambling activities are properly regulated and generate over Rs 100cr in revenue.
All kinds of public gambling activities are banned in India. Being a poor country, India is home to many vulnerable people who can be severely harmed by irresponsible gambling. However, most people now argue that banning gambling is no solution since it continues anyway through illegal means. Many professionals are urging the government to introduce legal but regulated gambling in India, just like in other countries.
So far, only the state of Maharashtra has made plans to curb online gambling. But even Maharashtra is yet to come up with a comprehensive law that prohibits online gambling, and it still allows residents to access offshore websites that provide gambling services. Therefore, we can say that players from most states are considerably safe to do online gambling.
Yes, all income earned from online gaming is taxable under 115BB of the Income Tax Act. This includes income generated through betting or gambling platforms, games like PUBG, or any other games. All online gambling platforms deduct 30% tax at source if the winnings exceed INR 10,000.