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Contributing Soccer and US Sport Editor
Contributing Soccer and US Sport Editor
The topic of legality of gambling or betting can be confusing when it comes to the Indian context, leading to the question is online gambling legal in India? While physical gambling in land-based casinos is illegal in most parts of India, there are no laws explicitly declaring online betting as being illegal. So, Is betting legal in India? The legality of online betting in India and the ensuing uncertainty is, in part, created by the lack of assimilation between the laws of the central and the state governments. This creates certain loopholes that have made it possible for punters from India to gambling online legally with companies based outside India.
In a rapidly changing world where there are different modes of gambling being introduced every day, the Indian gambling or online gambling laws are archaic at best. A bulk of these laws have been formulated a long time back and since then have not been updated. The punitive actions in the event of an illegal cause are minuscule, and there is hardly any consensus on how to approach the issue.
The Indian government has not put forth any dedicated online gambling laws, and hardly any techno-legal penal work has been formulated. As the legality of online gambling laws continue to be grey at best, India has become quite a lucrative area for establishing an online betting market.
Online gambling may still be in its early nascent stages in India, but the process of assimilating online gambling has started. In October 2014, the state government of Sikkim issued its first online gambling operator license to Future Gaming Solutions. The company has been given an operator license to engage in real-time online betting along with gaming services involving money within the purview of the state. This has led to the emergence of a few gambling sites and popular rummy and poker websites.
While the Constitution of India does have a detailed definition of what constitutes as gambling, there is an urgent need to update the definition. There are also a certain number of articles in the Constitution that need to be changed. Since that is not a priority of the lawmakers at present, there are no serious plans for overhauling in the near future. At best, the online gambling scenario in India under legal purview could be classified as a grey area.
In a federal structure of government such as India operates on, the responsibility is divided between the central government and the state governments. While gambling is a state subject and falls within the purview of the state government, the IT Act of 2000 is under the central government.
So is betting legal in India? Now, just to be clear, the act does not significantly specify issues like online gambling or comment on its legal status. In fact, the Act does not even mention gambling as a cause for legal impunity. The act effectively allows the Indian government to put a ban on foreign websites. However, the government has sometimes used this act to block out foreign betting and online gambling sites. While the effectiveness of such bans cannot be thoroughly verified on the legal front as they have happened in the past. In such scenarios, it is usually the operator who takes up the charge and blocks the website from the geographical territory. Thus, if you were to visit a website placed under such a ban, you would notice a message such as ‘Our platform is not available in your geographical location’.
Thus as you might realize, the question – ‘Is Online Gambling Legal in India?’ is not quite as easily addressed. Do note that the IT act does not specifically make it illegal for foreign websites and operators to conduct online gambling transactions and services in India. Therefore, you can place bets on any of the verified leading online casino platforms available online as long as the operators themselves are willing to provide services to the location you are based out of.
Since the ambit of law is always subject to a set of varied interpretations, there are definitely various interpretations from all sources as regards to their understanding. On listening to a whole lot of these arguments, one might be confused as to is Online Gambling Legal in India? Perhaps a good start to understanding the precarious position that the online gambling operators are in is best understood by taking a look at the significant gambling laws currently in effect.
Please note that as per the ruling of the Supreme Court of India, betting on horse racing is considered as a game that optimally uses the skill of the bettor and is therefore exempt from the usual bans on betting.
Essentially, a colonial regulation made under the erstwhile British colonial rule on the subcontinent, The Public Gambling Act makes all types of betting and gambling activities illegal (except for horse racing). The act bans all sorts of betting houses or establishments where betting takes place and places a ban on betting related activities as well. Since the law is over 150 years old, whether online betting comes under its purview remains ambiguous. The act notes that a betting ‘house or place’ is illegal. Now, whether the internet is a legally established ‘place’ is subject to debate.
The prize competition act talks about certain specific types of online betting and the rewards handed out in return. However, as with the previous act, the rule remains ambiguous about online betting and is mostly subject to specific forms of betting like the lottery.
Now, this is an act that does not have direct actions in banning online gambling but has far-reaching economic influences. The Act empowers the Reserve Bank of India to formulate policies as needed with reference to payment processing. This change in policies as per required has created a lot of problems with payment operators like Neteller and Entropay, who were subject to these guidelines. While these rules are usually formed to stop tax evasion and money laundering, they can also be used to put a stop to gambling payouts and bonuses.
Most betting legislation available in India is subject to a fixed set of normative guidelines. Since they have all been framed before the advent of the modern online gambling ecosystem, they choose to address offline or traditional betting as their modus operandi of operations. Here are the broader restrictions that these Acts seem to criminalize:
Please note that horse racing is not considered a form of betting, and any activities related to that even though within the ambit of the above guidelines are not regarded as illegal.
While the legal status of online betting has not been made official, you can rest easy, knowing that gambling online itself is not illegal as yet. The answer to Is Betting Legal in India for offline betting may be a ‘no’ but online gambling is legal. You can still try out betting and gambling online and it won’t be considered a criminal act. To guide you on your online gambling journey Wetten provides you with ample resources, including online betting guides and strategies on topics such as Asian handicap betting, matched betting, betting exchanges explained, understanding the cash-out option, and how betting odds are calculated.
Although there might not be any specific legislation addressing online gambling, the answer to Is Online Gambling Legal in India is most definitely a yes. Keep in mind, that any operator that is extending online gambling services to punters in India, must itself be located outside India and have all the requisite licenses. As long as these conditions are met and the operator itself confirms that Indian punters are welcome, you can confidently bet with them. Wetten.com helps you find the best online gambling sites available specifically for Indians and also provides online casino reviews India. so that you can easily start gambling online.