What is the Gambling Act in India?

What is the gambling act in India? Gambling in India has been popular since ancient times. Rather than a vice, it was viewed as a fun family activity where family and friends get together, especially during festive times of Diwali and Janmashtami, and have a few rounds of traditional gambling games like Teen Patti. In the modern-day, there have been instances when such gatherings have been raided by the authorities, and actions have been taken under the gambling act, against the players. What does the law say?

What is the gambling act in India?

The first gambling law in India was enacted under British Rule and was known as the Public Gambling Act of 1867. This archaic law is still in force in India, even after more than 150 years since it was formulated.

Under the law, it is illegal for anyone to operate, finance, or visit a gambling house, and violators can be subject to a fine of ₹200, or imprisonment of up to three months. While the law was pretty strict and uniform across India, there have been some changes in it post-independence.

The constitution of India has endowed the state with powers to legislate their own laws regarding gambling and betting. Using these constitutional powers, the states of Goa and Sikkim, as well as the Union Territory of Daman have legalized gambling within their borders.

Game of chance vs Game of skill

Gambling and betting are usually seen to be games of luck. But there have been several cases and interpretations by the Supreme Court of India. In two separate landmark judgments, the Supreme Court has deemed horse racing and rummy as `games of skill´, and hence excluded from the Gambling Act, which is only applicable to a `game of chance´.


The archaic gambling act is very outdated and vague in the present day, where several grey areas like online betting and online gambling. What is the gambling act in India? Apparently whatever the British came up with a century and a half ago! The laws need to be revisited in order to bring clarity and regulations for such sectors.