Is online gambling legal in India

Is Online Gambling Legal In India?

Gambling or betting has been attracting people for quite a while now. People from all walks of life try their luck by wagering a sum of money with the intent of winning more money than what was invested. 

Historically, gambling has been mentioned in several religious texts belonging to different mythologies, which makes the practice not unknown to the present world. 

In the United States, the emergence of cities like Las Vegas has flocked millions of people to try their luck in the city’s casinos.

Las Vegas witnesses people betting their whole livelihood for the sake of winning even more money. 

In Asia, Macau sets a similar example. 

Here in this article, we will look into the Is online gambling legal in India? in details.

Gambling scenario in India

Gambling is one of the most pleasurable pastime games in India. 

In India, the Gambling scene varies by state, as some states are strict in terms of gambling laws while some are quite lenient. 

Each state in India has the authority to exercise its laws on betting and gambling practices. 

The state governments can formulate their state-specific laws. 

Gambling laws have also been mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution. 

The states across India are given choices for the adoption of the Public Gambling Act, of 1976.

India still has a long way to go in the field of betting and gambling.

Currently, betting and gambling are legal in only three Indian states out of which only two, Sikkim and Goa have casinos. Sikkim has 2, while Goa has 10 casinos.

Two categories of betting and gambling in India

In India, betting and gambling games are differentiated into two broad categories, games of chance and games of skill.

Game of chance – The games which are played randomly and are completely based on luck are called games of chance. 

These games do not require any prior experience or knowledge. Some examples include picking a random number, rolling dice, etc. 

Game of chance games are considered illegal in India. 

Game of skills – The games which require several decision-making skills, analytical capacity, and logical and critical thinking are called games of skills. 

To play these games, a person needs to have prior experience and knowledge and also some initial training by experts to win. 

Game of skills are considered legal by most of the Indian states. 

Nevertheless, a huge ruckus revolves around these gambling games. 

Scenario of Online Gambling In India

India has one of the fastest-growing markets for sports betting and online casinos. 

Every year, the number of Indians betting on sports is increasing rapidly on Online betting platforms, 

In 2021 alone, over 370 million people have placed bets on major sports events like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Many more people are getting involved in online gambling in India because it is much more economical than personal casino-style gambling. 

The coronavirus pandemic even escalated the situation as people were free to do anything inside their homes and they had an opportunity to make money without even leaving their respective homes. 

People didn’t need to leave the four walls of their homes and they were enjoying real casino-style betting and gambling. 

Indians belonging to all age groups are invested in online betting especially the younger generations, people in their early 20s. 

These people look forward to gambling prize money to fulfil their financial as well as social needs and also prevent them from being dependent on the money of their peers. 

Is online gambling legal in India?

While gambling isn’t illegal in India, so far only three states, Goa, Sikkim, and Daman & Diu have completely legalized gambling. 

In India, horse racing is not illegal because horse racing requires some prior knowledge and experience so it is not all about gambling.

Gambling activities on a national level are regulated by the Public Gaming Act of 1867. 

Since this law was passed long before technology took over the world, this law does not mention anything related to online betting or gambling. 

The Information Technology Act of 2000 also does not say anything about online betting and gambling activities. 

Due to the unsure nature of online gambling activities in India, people in states with no online gambling rules and regulations are not bound to place their bets online and play online betting games.

State-wise online gambling laws and regulations

In India, there are no National level laws that prohibit online betting and gambling. 

Recently, a few states have made explicit laws against online betting. 

Laws like the Public Gambling Act of 1867 are in place even today. 

However, Indian online gambling players are not penalized on the grounds of online betting. 

In Goa, Sikkim, Daman & Diu, and Nagaland, land-based casinos and online gambling are legalized under the Public Gambling Act, of 1976.

The Rummy Federation, All India Gaming Federation, and Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports have adopted a self-regulation code for all their advertisements. 

Laws on Online Casinos in India

It is prohibited for Indian casinos to promote online gambling and betting games such as bingo, sports betting, etc. 

However, for non-Indian casino companies, it is not illegal to focus on and promote Indian online gambling players. 

The only rule is that these non-Indian casino companies have to pay the Indian online gambling players in Indian rupees and not any other foreign currency. 

Gambling Laws in Sikkim

The state of Sikkim, which is one of the only three Indian states where gambling is legal also permits an online lottery where players from all over India bet. 

Other Indian states were also expected to follow this thereby opening a major online gambling market throughout India but somehow, things didn’t turn out as it was supposed to. 

List of States where Lotteries are legal

Lotteries have been legalized in several states of India. 

These include Goa, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Nagaland, West Bengal, and Sikkim. 

Gambling Laws in Nagaland

E-gaming has been legalized in Nagaland and Sikkim

Gambling Laws in Mumbai

Under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, gambling is considered illegal by the state of Maharashtra.

Gambling Laws in Telangana & Arunachal Pradesh

As per the Telangana State Gaming Act, 1974 Telangana and Arunachal Pradesh consider the game of skill illegal.

Gambling Laws in Tamil Nadu & Karnataka

The Southern state of Tamil Nadu has moved one step forward in completely banning online gambling and betting activities within its territories. 

An amendment was passed by the state in February 2021 that made online gambling illegal inside its boundaries. 

Nevertheless, this law did not last long as the decision was overturned by the Madras High Court in late 2021. 

According to the High Court, this law violated Article 19(1)(g) of The Constitution. 

This law states that people have the freedom to carry on any occupation, trade, or business or practice any profession. 

The Madras High Court also stated that this law, which also resulted in the banning of online rummy, online poker, and online sports betting wasn’t implied legitimately and was excessive to what the state sought to achieve, which was to prevent the rise of gambling-related problems in the state.

In addition to this, the court also said since 1968, rummy has always been acknowledged as a game of skill and not a game of chances, so the ban on online rummy was unnecessary and shouldn’t be banned in the state.

Furthermore, the court also regarded the game as a legitimate business.

Following the footsteps of Tamil Nadu, neighbouring state Karnataka also imposed a similar ban on online gambling activities. 

The state of Karnataka also banned betting and investing in online games in September 2021. 

Ultimately, like Tamil Nadu, they too had to lift the ban on online gambling in February this year, on the court’s order. 

Both people in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka can play online gambling.

Here, the court said that the law defies the principle of proportionality and that it is illegitimate and excessive.

If we look at the Indian Constitution, Section 2(7) allows all games regardless of the skill involved. 

The laws banning online betting activities were in contrast to what’s mentioned in the Constitution. This is why it was necessary to take down the laws. 

Future of Online Gambling In India

By the examples of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, we can see that the freedom given to States in making the laws on gambling on their own isn’t very successful.

We need national-level regulations for the smooth functioning of gambling activities in India. 

While completely banning gambling and betting would not be a very intelligent thing to do as thousands of people have their livelihoods dependent on gambling due to the emergence of many companies.

According to the Indian judiciary, the states are authorized to make their amendments on gambling, as long as they don’t violate the Indian constitution. 

Even if Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were forced to lift their ban on online gambling activities, those states are still vocal about finding ways to fight off gambling-related problems emerging in the present times. 


Taking all this into consideration, we may see more states scrapping the ban on gambling-related activities shortly or more states making a push to ban online gambling. 

It wouldn’t be wise to say anything concrete at the moment.

In 2022, the legal status of gambling in India needs to be modified to follow up with the changing times as well as the changing social environment. 

Redeveloping several gambling laws that are more uniform is the need of the time. The government needs to step up its game by installing a proper legal framework on the subject of online gambling. 

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