Tamil Nadu Gambling Laws

Gambling from Tamil Nadu has become a real hassle for gamblers, as the state approved a new Bill issued in October 2022 banning all forms of gambling.

This ban is the second attempt at a ban after the previous ordinance was denied by the Madras High Court.

Similar to states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, gambling from TN has to be done at one’s own discretion and risk.

Surbhi Soni Senior Associate at Touchstone Partners

Audited by Surbhi Soni

Senior Associate at Law Firm Touchstone Partners

Last audit on 12th April 2022

How to gamble from Tamil Nadu

Several trusted online casino sites still allow Tamil Nadu players to sign up and play; some have even tailored their websites to specifically cater to Indians.

Casinos like Casino Days and Bettilt are available, and players from TN who wish to use them can do so at their own risk.

Most gambling is illegal in Tamil Nadu. This includes Teen Patti real cash and Andar Bahar games. Despite this, it’s common for people to travel to Chennai to play games like these.

The only fully legal type of gambling in the state is horse racing, and it doesn’t look as if the state will ease its restrictions on other types of games any time soon.

Offshore gambling sites offer their live casino tables, sports odds, and slots to Indian players as there’s a low risk for them to be affected by the gambling laws in India.

Tamil Nadu Gambling Landscape

Although Tamil Nadu is geographically close to liberal states like Kerala, Goa, and Karnataka, the state still strictly restricts gambling.

Nearly all forms of gambling are illegal in the state, lottery included. The only type of betting that is accepted within Tamil Nadu borders is horse racing.

The new bill, known as the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation on Online Games Bill, 2022, bans all forms of gambling, and also categorizes games like rummy and poker as games of chance.

Gambling Laws in Tamil Nadu

For the person just getting to know India’s gambling laws, the Tamil Nadu ones might be a bit confusing.

The reason for this is that Tamil Nadu was known as Madras up until 1969. The capital city Chennai was known under the name of Madras up until 1996.

Furthermore, before the recently issued Bill, two different Acts for gambling were used; the Madras City Police Act, 1888, and the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930.

The Madras City Police Act, 1888 & The Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930

While the Madras City Police Act was used for any gambling activity occurring within Chennai and its suburbs, the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act included smaller towns and communities.

That said, both acts are very similar in how they viewed gambling, and owning, running, or visiting a gaming house anywhere in Tamil Nadu is strictly prohibited.

All games, no matter if skill or chance-based, are illegal when money is involved.

Casino in Chennai

Being the capital city of Tamil Nadu, there’s no surprise that illegal betting is common here. Despite gambling being prohibited, it’s first and foremost those organizing gameplay with money that are arrested by police.

And “organized” can be as simple as gambling with your friends, like Shaam, who was arrested together with 11 other people in his apartment in July 2020.

Gambling using one’s own mobile phone or computer is a lot less risky, so players in Chennai can gamble at their own discretion using mobile phones, tablets, or computers.

Casino in Coimbatore

Just like in the capital, physical gambling in Coimbatore is restricted and prohibited by law. Although Coimbatore is a city of over 1.6 million people, it does attract a lot fewer gamblers in comparison to Chennai.

Playing casino games in Coimbatore is restricted by the same issues as in Chennai, which means that online gambling is the way to go if you wish to play.

Tamil Nadu FAQ

Online gambling for money is illegal in Tamil Nadu.
No, but you can place bets at your own discretion; just bear in mind that you are doing so at your own risk.
Online lottery is not legal in Tamil Nadu as it’s a game of chance that involves financial transactions.

Lottery in Tamil Nadu

Thirteen states in India allow state lottery, and unfortunately, Tamil Nadu is not one of them.

Lotteries have been banned in Tamil Nadu since 2003, and the ban prohibits state lotteries, online lotteries, and the sale of tickets to lotteries based outside the state.

And the “random draw” ban doesn’t stop there. In TN, residents aren’t even allowed to participate in giveaways.

Big companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestlé, etc., are refraining from holding giveaways in the state, as The Tamil Nadu Prize Schemes (Prohibition) Act, 1979, prohibits them from doing so.

Sports betting in Tamil Nadu

You might already have caught on to how the gambling laws in Tamil Nadu work. Yes, sports betting is also considered illegal in the state.

The only exception to the rule is horse racing, as it is a sport deemed a game of skill by the Indian Supreme Court.

That said, underground cricket betting is massive in Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai.

The Cockfigths in Karur

Betting on various animal fights or competitions is common in more rural areas of India, and Tamil Nadu is no exception.

Karur is a small city in central TN, known for hosting large gatherings of cockfights. Now, the fights themselves are not completely illegal, as long as the district administration has approved them, but betting on these fights is considered a crime just like any sports betting.

Horse racing in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is home to India’s oldest racecourse, the Guindy Racecourse, in Chennai.

It also holds the Ooty Racecourse in The Nilgiri Hills, and both of these courses host some of the most popular horse races in India.

For locals, betting on horse racing is the only legal form of betting one can do when physically present in the state, and it’s confirmed legal as per the Tamil Nadu Betting Tax Act, 1935.

Status on Rummy, Poker, Flush, and other card games

Up until recently, Rummy was in a league on its own when talking about card games in Tamil Nadu. The reason for this was that Rummy was considered legal when played in a physical form, and real money was not involved.

On a national level, Rummy was confirmed a game of skill in 1967, but was deemed illegal in TN in 2012, stating that the game turns illegal due to the nature of real money stakes, and that the game’s location is considered a gaming house.

Although this was appealed in 2015, both Rummy and poker are with the 2022 Bill considered games of chance, and are thus illegal.

To sum it up

Although gambling is very present in Tamil Nadu, the vast majority of it is illegal.

It is clear that the government is focused on catching those organizing gambling, although the latest Bill has simply dampened the glow of gambling by casting a blanket ban over the activity as a whole.

The gambling landscape in India is changing, and we may just see a nationwide attitude change towards gambling that leads to the regulation of games of skill and chance, making them available to players in Tamil Nadu once again.

Disclaimer: This material is for general information only and is not intended as legal advice and no duty of care is owed to any reader. The readers of this material are requested to engage their own legal counsel in order to make any legal or business decisions and to obtain legal advice specific to them.

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