Tamil Nadu Gambling Laws

Gambling from Tamil Nadu recently took a turn for the worse as the state issued an Ordinance, adding the concept of “cyberspace” to their Act.

Similar to states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, gambling is, therefore, made much more difficult, and now comes with additional risk for players of TN.

Last updated on 1st July 2021

Published: 02/10/2020

Categories: Guides, Guides Gambling Laws

How to gamble from Tamil Nadu

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

Casinos like 10CRIC and Pure Win are still available, but players from TN who wish to use them are now doing so at their own risk.

The majority of gambling is illegal in Tamil Nadu. This includes Teen Patti and Andar Bahar. 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. As mentioned, they recently rather moved towards the opposite, by amending their gambling laws.

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

Tamil Nadu players have not yet been arrested for playing at any of these sites. However, the new Ordinance states that gambling in “cyberspace” is illegal. This increases the risk for players from here.

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 types of betting that are accepted within Tamil Nadu borders is horse racing.

On the 4th of February 2021, an amendment to current law was presented, stating that  ”no person shall ”wager” or ”bet” in games like rummy or similar games played online using ”computers” or ”any communication device” or “any other instrument of gaming”.

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 because Tamil Nadu was known as Madras State up until 1969. The capital city Chennai was known under the name of Madras up until 1996.

Furthermore, the state uses two different Acts for gambling; 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 is used for any gambling activity occurring within Chennai and its suburbs, the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act includes smaller towns and communities.

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

Looking at online gambling specifically, the most recent amendment means that players who are caught gambling online risk fines of up to 10,000, up to two years in prison, or both.

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 also illegal, so players in Chennai will be gambling at their own risk if they choose to do so.

Casino in Coimbatore

Just like for the capital, 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 Chennai, which means that it’s up to you if you feel comfortable taking the risk of playing from here.

Tamil Nadu FAQ

Online gambling is illegal in Tamil Nadu due to a recent Ordinance that added “cyberspace” to their existing gambling laws.
No. You can place bets, but at your own risk, due to the current laws forbidding online gambling.
Online lottery is not legal in Tamil Nadu as it falls under the new Ordinance law which forbids the use of digital instruments to place bets online.

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 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

Rummy is in a league on its own when talking about card games in Tamil Nadu. The reason for this is because Rummy is considered, somewhat, legal, when played in a physical form and real money is not involved.

Rummy was confirmed a game of skill in 1967 but was deemed illegal 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.

However, this was appealed in 2015, and today, Rummy is legal, as long as it’s not played using real money in a gaming-house establishment or online.

All other card games are 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 law amendments make it clear that they are also going after online gamblers directly.

We think that it is unfortunate that Tamil Nadu has moved towards creating further restrictions, instead of regulating gambling.

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

Punya Varma Associate at Touchstone Partners

Last audited on 1st July 2021

By Punya Varma

Associate at Law Firm Touchstone Partners

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.