India Gambling Laws 2023
Before entering into any gambling activity, it is important to check the gambling laws for the country you are playing in. Regional gambling laws enforce Indian brick-and-mortar and India legal online gambling establishments within the country’s borders.
Individual states are allowed to draft their own gambling laws, though only 2 have done anything towards legalized India based gambling. Sikkim and Goa are the 2 states to have done so, and out of these 2, Sikkim is the only with contracted online gambling operators. India players can access legal Indian online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks via licensed offshore brands without violating any local laws.
This page was created for the sole purpose of informing players from India on the legal constraints on gambling. Below you will find an explanation of each of the federal laws on gambling, as well as an explanation on the state law front.
India’s Federal Laws Vague On Gambling Entertainment
One thing to notice about India gambling laws is that they are outdated—they range from 1867 to 2000 in terms of drafting and enactment. Before getting into the laws, it is important to understand that most forms of brick-and-mortar gambling are banned throughout the country, but there is no means for enforcing laws with online gambling.
In fact, there is no specific mention of online gambling whatsoever in any of the legal benchmarks discussed on this page. Licensed offshore gambling brands are able to offer their services to India players under these circumstances, including Indian online sports betting, India friendly online racebooks, poker and casino options.
Public Gambling Act of 1867
The first gambling law in India was passed in the 19th century, and it is still the standing precedent today. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 aimed to shut down gaming houses. The law defines a gaming house as “any house, walled enclosure, room or place, playing or gaming with cards, dice, counters, money or other instruments of gaming or is found there present for the purpose of gaming, whether playing for any money, wager, stake or otherwise.” The penalty for any violations of this law is up to one month in jail.
Technically speaking, this law does not make it illegal to participate in gambling, but rather to run a gambling operation. In any case, the absence of gambling venues translates to an absence of gambling (at least in official establishments).
In 1976, the law was finally amended to update Section 6, where the previously cited excerpt comes from. Specifically, the amendment changed the definition of a gaming house as a “house, walled enclosure, room or place” to a “house, room, tent, enclosure, space, vehicle, vessel or place.” This is where the controversy arises. Does “vehicle” or “vessel” apply to computers/the Internet? Anti-gambling lobbyists would say so, however it is tough to legitimize given the absence of any explicit mention of online gambling in the law’s language.
Prize Competition Act (1955)
The Prize Competition Act of 1955 was originally designed to mitigate a specific type of gambling—puzzle-based—but its mention of certain prize levels leads it to be misconstrued. Essentially, the act bans prize competitions where the winnings exceed a thousand rupees. Per the law’s definition, a prize competition is a puzzle-based game dealing with building, arranging, combining or permutating any words, figures or letters. Slots could be included under this definition, but is difficult to pin anything down when there is no reference of slots or online gambling in the law.
Information Technology Act of 2000
It is interesting that the most recent gambling law dates back to 2000 because it reflects the primitive conception of the modern gambling industry in India. The Information Technology Act of 2000 serves as a more of a blanket law, covering a broad scope of online activity. The overall language is quite vague, and again, there is no mention of online gambling. It is included in our discussion of India gambling because of a passage within the act discussing offensive messages through electronic means.
Per the law, any electronic message sent that is perceived as offensive, menacing or intimidating is considered illegal. The act can be applied to content published on websites, begging the question: is content on gambling websites considered offensive? This is a subjective matter, meaning it would be tough to uphold on the legal front. The Information Technology Act is the weakest of the laws regarding applicability to online gambling, but the controversy is still present.
India Gambling – States of Affairs
Individual states/provinces have the right to implement their own laws on gambling. Only 2 Indian states, Sikkim and Goa, have done so. These states both feature brick-and-mortar gambling establishments available to their residents. Sikkim took an innovative step forward by becoming the first state authorized to offer licenses to online gambling brands interested in offering services to residents.
So far, this is the only instance of legal India based online gambling. The Sikkim online gambling industry is still in its infancy stage, so government officials will likely keep an eye on how things progress before making any efforts towards gambling reform.
Offshore Connection Provides Safe Options To India’s Residents
India gambling codes mitigate businesses owned and operated within the country’s borders. There are no laws banning players from India from betting with legally sanctioned offshore brands. These outfits are licensed and regulated by a respected government and feature Indian legal online poker, casinos and sports betting. India law has no way of enforcing punishments on residents for participating in gambling through these sites, making the Indian gambling market one of the most exciting for offshore operators.
There are brands that cater specifically to India players by accepting Indian rupees. These websites give India online gamblers the opportunity to experience legitimate online gambling options such as legal online Keno, without any fear of prosecution.
Any Planned Changes To India’s Gambling Laws?
The Law Commission of India got together back in 2016 to examine the local gambling industry. They even solicited the help of the population to determine whether they should legalize widespread gambling. No such action took place, and any legislative efforts seemed to have stalled. However, online poker and sports betting options (hosted locally) are emerging as potential options.
The government is considering legalization, which would help the country reap some of the profits from the billion-dollar industry. Regarding online casino gambling, Sikkim will likely be the testing platform, but if all goes well then it is possible for India based online casinos to be introduced. Indian players can continue using offshore brands for the time being.