More than a billion people live in India and many of them gamble. Sports betting is very popular here especially if we’re talking about horse racing and cricket bets. The gambling legislation in India is very old and unclear which makes it difficult to determine the legal status of gambling in this country, but let’s try to see what the law says.
The Public Gaming Act of 1867
This act says it’s illegal to run or be in charge of a public gaming house. The penalty is 200 rupees or maximum 3 months of jail. There is also a section that prohibits visiting gambling houses. The penalty for breaking this rule is a 100 rupees fine or maximum 1 month in jail. However, the act doesn’t make it clear if it applies only for chance based betting or for skilled based betting too.
The definition of gambling in this act is also unclear. It suggests that any activity where you risk money to win money is considered gambling. Taking into account this language, sports betting, poker and casino games are illegal. Betting at horse races was legalized at state level which contradicts to some extent the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Today, 3 Indian states actually allow casinos: Sikkim, Daman and Goa.
Online gambling in India
Given the fact that the internet was invented many years after the Public Gaming Act, you understand why there is no mention of online gambling in there. It is unclear where operating a gambling website in India is illegal. Under the Information and technology act of 2000, publication and transmission of information that corrupts people is prohibited and online gambling falls in this category. Those who don’t abide to these laws risk a 100,000 rupees fine or imprisonment for maximum 5 years. Maharashtra actually banned online gambling under the Bombay Wager Act.
In spite of these regulations, Sikkim has an online lottery and is trying to issue licenses for online gambling providers. The first license issued was in October 2014 to Future Gaming Solutions Private Limited.
How does this affect you
The current India legislation with the exception of Maharashtra, doesn’t clearly say if using a gambling site in India is legal. We are not aware of any Indian being prosecuted or charged for using an online gambling website. Although many websites allow Indians to make deposits and buy lottery tickets, it can be difficult for them to pay directly from their account or using a credit card. Unless they are paying in rupees, they are making exchanges in foreign currency that are covered by the Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999. In order to bypass this, you can use a e-wallet service like PayPal.
In spite of the laws, the Indian gambling market is flourishing being estimated at $60 billion per year. About half of this money is illegally bet. This being said, you will most probably be ok if you buy, let’s say, a lottery ticket. Take at look at the Euro Millions lottery statistics to see what are you chances of winning.