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Understanding the Gambling Laws in India

We’re not going to lie; the gambling laws in India are complicated. For many reasons. The most obvious one being that the governing laws are some 150 years old.

Gambling has been a big part of our Indian history and culture for centuries, and quite a lot has changed in the last year. The Internet, smartphones and, of course, access to online casinos have revolutionized the way we gamble.

At Seven Jackpots, we are passionate about gambling and betting, and we want you to be too! That’s why we are going to teach you everything we know about the laws and regulations of India. So that you can enjoy playing, and winning, legally.

We’ve spent long days and nights reading through documents and reports on the legal situation in India. All so that we can give you the most accurate information possible. And believe us, legal texts are not fun to read, which is why we’re breaking them down for you here in a more understandable format.

Which are the Gambling Laws in India in 2020?

There are several gambling laws in India. First off, you have the country laws which are in effect throughout India. Then, you have the state laws, which differ greatly from state to state. Laws also differ depending on if you are looking at land-based casinos or online casinos, or if you are looking at games of chance or games of skill.

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The Gambling Act in India today

Gambling in India as a country is dictated primarily by the Public Gaming Act, which was put into effect in 1867. The government initially applied this law to the whole country but has since allowed states to handle gambling laws on their own. Many of them do use the Gaming Act as a foundation for their regulations or restrictions.

The gambling Act sees a clear distinction between different game types. For example, plenty of games that incorporate skills are legal. This includes poker, fantasy sports, and horse racing. Even lottery has its framework from which it is legally offered to Indian players.

Furthermore, since these gambling laws in India are old, we are today able to enjoy casino games online without having to worry about breaking them. Online gambling did not exist 150 years ago, creating a natural grey area full of potential for us eager gamblers.

indian country in the colours of the indian flag

The answer to this question depends on the game type and the location. When it comes to legislation, the laws mainly focus on “gaming or common gaming houses.” In other words, real gambling at physical locations within the country. A casino, if you may.

Gambling, as such, has been illegal in India since the Public Gaming Act. Persons caught breaking the law receive rather mild punishment; up to 200 rupees fine, or up to 3 months imprisonment.

The Act does, however, not completely ban all forms of gambling. Instead, it differentiates between games of skill and games of chance. According to the original Public Gaming Act, game types are divided as follows:

Games of skillGames of chance
Rummy, Bridge, Poker
Chess, Carom
Horse Racing
Golf, Darts
Fantasy Sports
Slot games
RNG-table games
Blackjack
Roulette
Baccarat

Skill-based games are legal to participate in as long as they are conducted in line with regulations. Chance-based games are illegal, with the exception when offered from within the states of Goa, Sikkim, or Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

Interestingly, there are exceptions to these laws. During Diwali, it’s considered ok to gamble together with friends and family. A household where gambling occurs indoors during Diwali is not considered a common gaming house and thus not considered illegal.

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The Different Types of Gambling

As you can see from the table above, there are several different types of gambling in India. They all have their own rules and regulations, and these rules also differ between states.Confusing? Yes. But hear us out.

In reality, you only need to keep track of the laws of your state, and the game type that you are interested in playing. If you are playing physically, that is.

But more on that later.

  • Casino
    Only Goa, Sikkim, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu regulate and also offer casino games via brick-and-mortar casinos.
    When it comes to online gambling, the Gaming Enactments of each state regulate them. These Enactments deem casino games to be non-skill based gambling activities and are therefore prohibited.
  • Betting
    Betting can either be allowed or regulated, depending on what the betting is placed on.
    If placed on games of chance, it will be prohibited. If bets are placed on casino games or games of skill, there are exceptions to the rule that make betting legal.
  • Poker
    Poker is one of the games deemed a ‘game of skill.’ The Gaming Enactments of Indian states do not include poker, and as such, it’s widely available in the country.
    In Nagaland, operators need a license to offer Poker. Sikkim, Telangana, and Gujarat aren’t offering poker at all.
  • Bingo
    Bingo can either be considered lottery, or gambling.
    If considered a lottery, it falls under the Lottery Laws, which allows State Governments to organize lotteries under specific circumstances. If considered gambling, it will be a game of chance and thus be prohibited.
  • Lottery
    Some states modify the Government Lottery Laws.
    Lotteries are regulated in Sikkim, while Madhya Pradesh has completely banned it. In Punjab, the only form of lottery that is allowed is that which is conducted online.

Local Gambling Regulations in India

Although the Public Gaming Act has been introduced to the country as a whole, some of the country’s 29 states and 7 union territories have specific gambling laws.India is a vast country with a mix of people, cultures, and religions.

This, of course, also means that some areas will have a different view on gambling than others.

There are areas such as Orissa and Assam, where gambling is completely banned due to the high population of Hindi and Muslim people.

At the same time, locations such as Goa and Sikkim have created gambling regulations that allow for licensed operators to run land-based casinos.

  • Maharashtra and Gujarat
    Here, operators are not allowed to offer casino games. That said, lottery, and betting on horse racing is legal. In Gujarat, poker is not considered legal, while other card games such as rummy and bridge are.
  • Meghalaya
    While most gambling is prohibited within Meghalaya by their Prevention of Gambling Act (1970), horse race betting is not. Bets can be placed on Teer via licensed operators.
  • Rajasthan
    In the state of Rajasthan, both offering games in a gaming house (casino) and playing in one is considered an offense. That said, there’s a large underground culture of gambling here, mainly in Jaipur.
  • Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
    Regulated states and union territories such as these allow casino games to be offered by licensed operators as per the Public Gambling Act, 1976. Slot machines and table games are found only at five-star hotels, and on offshore vessels (cruise ships).
  • Tamil Nadu
    The state of Tamil Nadu is one of the few in India where almost all forms of gambling are prohibited. The exception is horse racing, which is deemed an accepted game of skill to place bets on.
  • Sikkim
    Another regulated state that allows casino games such as slots and table games. They are found at five-star hotels and are regulated under The Sikkim Casino Act. Blackjack, roulette, and casino brag are all allowed types of games. Sikkim is the only state where sports betting is allowed.
  • Nagaland
    The Nagaland Act allows for a large number of virtual sports games, as well as poker, rummy, chess, etc. Nagaland is the only state where operators offering games of skill require a license.
  • Telangana
    This is one of the states within India, where all forms of gambling are prohibited. The Telangana Gaming Act 2017 confirms a zero-tolerance approach against gambling.
  • Orissa and Assam
    Gambling, of any sort (except horse race betting in Assam) is completely illegal. Neither the Assam Act or Odisha Act permits gameplay or staking of money for betting or gambling.

Online Gambling Laws and the IT Act

There are no distinct overlying laws that pinpoint the online gambling industry in India. Locally, the regular gaming Acts issued by the governments are already including all forms of gambling, both online and offline.

These laws are, however, not able to touch foreign casinos.

In the year 2000, The Information Technology Act was set up. The scope: To protect people from digital activity deemed able to “corrupt” them. The Act does, however, not mention online gambling explicitly, but is used to battle foreign operators.

How?

By utilizing ISP-blocking, where a local Internet provider blocks the casino website.

Something else that native gamblers can run into when gambling online is issues with making payments. The RBI has been working hard to block any transactions made for gambling purposes, which results in us Indians having to resort to alternative methods.

Skrill, Neteller, Google Pay, and other payment solutions are therefore preferred means of payment when playing at a casino online.

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Overview of Online Gambling in India

It might seem as if it’s close to impossible to enjoy online gambling in India.

But here’s the kicker;

foreign gambling sites don’t fall under local law!

What this means is that, although gaming companies are unable to offer casino games from within India, companies based elsewhere can.

You can play as much as you want on these websites without worrying about breaking any laws. Since they aren’t based in India, you are not participating in illegal gambling!

An ever-growing online gaming culture

Online gambling is increasingly popular in India, many thanks to increased Internet availability.According to The World Bank data, around 35% of India’s population was using the Internet in 2017. And the trend suggests that this is closer to 40% today.

The trend of Internet users in India, climbing steadily.

The number of secure internet servers in India has also increased. From being close to non-existent in 2010, over 250 thousand servers were recorded in 2018.

The number of secure internet servers in India, just passing 250,000 in 2017.

Various sources state that the gambling market back in 2009 was worth around $60 billion. And that 75% of that comes from foreign casinos! A lot has happened since 2009, and we’re sure that this amount has grown exponentially since.

Foreign Online Gambling Sites

There are plenty of online casinos that cater to Indian players today. Some have even tailored websites for us.

Native casino tables, unique promotions, the possibility to play using rupees, and a higher focus on the games we love to play.

Casinos aimed towards India are also very good at handling payments and account verifications in a fast and secure way.

We’ve selected the operators who all offer fair and safe gambling with loads of winning chances!

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Even the game providers who are offering their games to online casinos are completely legal for you to play with. They are located outside of India, and also operate under strict licensing, just as the casinos.

What’s more, is that game providers regularly conduct audits on their games to ensure they are fair and safe – external organizations such as eCOGRA or iTechLabs conduct such inspections.

NetEnt
If you’ve ever visited an online casino site, chances are that you’ve spotted a NetEnt game. They hold a Critical Gaming Supply license from Malta, which allows them to offer their games to India.

They are offering slots, as well as live casino tables, and even jackpot games to Indian players.

Evolution Gaming
Another provider with a reputable MGA license is Evolution Gaming. Since the experience of a brick-and-mortar casino is only available in three states, they bring the experience to you instead.

This live casino provider operates the Bollywood live roulette and blackjack tables.

Ezugi
It’s not only Evolution who are opting for a more tailor-made live experience for us locals. Even Ezugi are donned with a license from Malta, and a love for India.

To ensure they are catering to all of us, they offer both Teen Patti and Andar Bahar!

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that India has gone through a lot when it comes to gambling. And it still is under constant discussions around the country. Gujarat is as we speak, reviewing the legality of poker, for example.

And, as mobile use, Internet use, and overall online gambling increases, the government starts to see the potential profit in regulating the market further to retain those profits within the country.

Only time will tell in which direction the online gambling laws in India will take. A higher number of regulated states is not impossible.

Seeing as gambling does have a presence in India, it is also susceptible to taxation. Well, at least the games that are traceable back to the player.

Is foreign gambling income taxable? Since operators are based outside of India, they don’t fall under taxation laws within the country.

There’s currently no easy solution for how to trace winnings made at foreign casinos. For local income, the situation looks a bit different:

As per the Indian income tax laws, any income, by way of winnings from any lottery or crossword puzzle or card game and other game of any sort, exceeding INR 10,000, is subject to a withholding tax of 30% – Tanisha Khanna

Indian online sites (such as the ones in Sikkim) will deduct a TDS (Tax Deduction at Source) on your winnings.

Looking forward

Let’s face it; we as players want to be able to chase the dream of becoming crorepatis in a secure and fair environment. Being able to play at sites that tick all those boxes is already possible through the casinos we list. But we’d love to see India become a haven for us gamblers.

How will we be able to do that?

By leading by example.

Being committed to playing responsibly and engaging in legal gambling is a good start. So without further ado, we wish you the best of luck when playing.

And remember, always play responsibly.

Gambling Laws in India FAQ

Is gambling legal in India?

Engaging in gambling activities within illegal gaming houses is considered an offense (even just visiting one). However, the primary focus of the laws within India when it comes to gambling is to catch those offering games illegally. Gamblers themselves are usually able to play without issues.

Where can I legally bet in India?

If you are located within Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, or Sikkim, you can bet at one of the land-based, licensed casinos available there. Are you located elsewhere? Hundreds of casino slot games, live casino tables, and sports odds await you at the online casinos we list here at Seven Jackpots.

Is online sports betting legal?

Online sports betting is legal and widely available through foreign casino- and sportsbook-sites. Locally, only Sikkim has the right to offer sports betting to gamblers. The exception is that of horse racing, which is considered a game of skill and is thus allowed.

Which websites can I use to place bets legally in India?

The casino sites that you find listed here at Seven Jackpots are the best and brightest in India right now. They’ve gone through rigorous testing by us, and they all offer fair, safe, and secure high-quality gaming.

Is online gambling legal in India?

When it comes to local online casinos, only Sikkim offers legal gambling sites. That said, it is not illegal for you as a player to gamble at online casinos located outside of India. So when speaking of online gambling, it’s more a question of it not being regulated, rather than it being illegal.

Which games of skill are legal in India?

The majority of Indian states follow the Public Gaming Act, which allows gambling on skill-based games. These are (not excluding): Rummy, Bridge, Poker, Chess, Carom, Horse Racing, Golf, Darts, Fantasy Sports.

What is online gambling?

Online gambling is a form of gambling or betting where you access an online site to play. The site offers digital versions of slot games, as well as live-streamed live casino tables. Some even provide sports odds for you to bet on in real-time.

Are gambling laws equal across all of India?

No, they are not. Many Indian states have their regulations. That said, foreign gaming companies can offer their online casino services to Indian players without being affected by state or country laws. No matter where you are, you will be able to enjoy casino games online.
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