Is Betting Legal in India? The answer to this question is not as simple as one would expect it to be. The laws that govern gambling in India are old and outdated. They were written almost a century and a half ago and are really not applicable today.
The main act that the Government of India has uses against gambling is the Public Gambling Act of 1867. 153 years old to be exact.
This act refers to gambling rooms or physical ‘gambling dens' where gambling is illegal. The penalty is a princely fine of Rs.100 or 1-month prison or both.
There is no law that specifically makes betting online illegal in India. This is the grey area in which most of the betting companies operate. Some of the best betting companies in the world still welcome Indian customers on their platforms.
The Indian Premier League, international cricket matches, Kabaddi, and other Indian passions are big earners for major betting companies now.
There is another law that the Indian Government can use if it wants to. The Information Technology Act 2000. This allows the government to fine any activity it views as being corruptible to the people.
That is a very broad stroke with which to paint. Anything or everything can be viewed through this act. It is also extremely subjective in nature. Theoretically, though, the Indian Government can use this act to persecute online gambling in India.
The fine can be up to Rs 10000 or 5 Years in Prison or both.
🇮🇳 Are Betting Laws Enforced in India?
To our knowledge, not a single person has ever been prosecuted in India for online gambling. The reasons for this are twofold. One, as we mentioned earlier, there is no specific law that makes online gambling illegal in India.
Two, most of the betting companies that welcome Indian players register themselves offshore in other countries. The Indian government simply does not have the means or the incentive to try and gather information from these different companies.
Also, legal experts believe that courts may not find an Indian citizen betting online guilty. The countries where these websites register are those where gambling is legal. Indian citizens win lotteries in the UAE all the time. Vegas and Macau serve a lot of Indian customers, all of whom certainly get their winnings back when they come back to India!
The betting companies also do everything to protect the identity of their customers. Their business is going to be adversely affected by toeing the government's line. Major global names like bet365, betway, and 10Cric not only accept Indian customers but also allow them to bet in their own currency.
🇮🇳 Skill vs Luck
The Public Gambling Act distinguishes between games of skill and games of luck. This is why Dream11, MyTeam11, or any number of such ‘fantasy sports companies’ function with freedom because the courts have judged them to be a game of skill.
Not the same with sportsbetting, poker, or blackjack unfortunately.
This makes betting in India a bit of a grey area.
🇮🇳 Will Betting be Legal in India?
It is only a matter of time before sports betting becomes legal in India. The attitude around gambling and its regulations are changing. The courts have realized the current laws against betting is not possible.
The size of the illegal betting market, all offline, is considered to be close to $50 Billion. It attracts the mafia and other seedy elements that affect law and order. The government also does not earn any tax revenue from such gambling.
Territories like Goa, Sikkim, and Daman have already made gambling legal on casinos that are based within their boundaries. Casinos in these regions contribute massive amounts of revenue that is used for the public good.
We can see the landscape of sports betting in India very soon.
🇮🇳 What should you do?
If you do decide to bet online in India then you should know that technically it is an illegal act. People bet online on cricket in India all the time. The law that governs online betting in India is a bit unclear. Go ahead and bet online after reading the specifics of the law. Use safe and trustworthy websites so that you can actually enjoy the money you win!