Is Online Casino Legal in India?

If you want to gamble in India, you’ll need to know where and how you can legally play and place your bets.

As more online casinos become available in the sub-continent, more and more laws are implemented both country wide and, on a state-by-state basis.

On this page you’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know about legally gambling in India and, most importantly of all, if online casinos are legal in India.

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Although gambling legally in India is theoretically not allowed, you might be surprised to learn that due to how outdated the wording of the laws pertaining to gambling are, online casino laws very much fall into a grey area.

The laws were written way before the invention of the internet, so there is nothing specifically stopping players in India from playing online. The only requirement is that the casino must be based outside of India.

The assumptions on this site are based off the research done by Nisith Desai Associates at The Comparative International Legal Guides summary of gambling laws in India.

Generally speaking, if you want to gamble in India, you’ll need to play at an online casino. In most states you can’t legally play at a brick-and-mortar casino, but you can play online, from almost any state.

Legal online casinos in India are only allowed if they operate from another country. Just make sure you  check the local state laws because, sadly, online casinos are explicitly illegal in a few states.

But take into account that even though there are states where it is illegal, no one has been punished for online gambling yet meaning it is not really in effect. It is more a moral question because it is extremely unlikely that you will get punished.

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If you really get a thrill from placing a real money bet in person, then you are going to want to learn to love horseracing betting, as it is generally the only form of betting that is legal throughout India.

Luckily, if you don’t mind wagering online, you’ll have many more options available to you.

Simply go online and wager on whatever you like. Just remember that it must be an offshore betting site.

Punishment for Online Gambling

The official stance for running a gambling house in India is a fine of ₹200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months in jail.

The punishment for online gambling is a little different. Although it is very much illegal to run an online gambling site from within India, to date no one has been penalized for online gambling.

Even in states where online gambling is illegal, no player or punter has ever been fined or spent any time in prison. That’s not to say it won’t change, but for now you are pretty safe.

Indian Gambling Laws

The gambling laws in India are quite complex, not to mention outdated. Laws pertaining to betting date back either decades, or over a century. A few states have started to update their laws, but most still rely on the archaic laws.

One of the things that makes these laws so irrelevant is that most were written long before the internet even existed, meaning there aren’t any explicit online gambling laws.

Public Gambling Act 1867

Back in 1867, the Indian government decided they needed to crackdown on public gambling houses that had been popping up unperturbed throughout the country. To fight this, they created the Public Gambling Act of 1867.

As a centralised law it outlawed and defined the penalties for running a public gambling house. However, nowhere in the law does it make any mention of offshore gambling.

Under the law, there is nothing that plainly states that online gambling at a gaming company based outside of India is illegal.

Information Technology Act 2000

By 2000, the government had realised that they needed to create a law to deal with cybercrime, so the Information Technology Act (2000) was born.

The act defines cyber crimes and prescribes relevant penalties for committing them.

Since gambling on the internet isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Act, it is up to the interpretation of the courts. To date, no court has used this Act to penalise online gamblers.

State Gambling Laws

Although the Public Gambling Act relates to gambling throughout the country, each state can amend or adjust gambling laws at a state level. This is the reason that states like Goa, Daman and Sikkim can all have legal brick and mortar casinos.

State gambling laws vary greatly from being very liberal, like Goa, to incredibly strict like Tamil Nadu.

Only a few states have prescribed internet gambling laws. Meaning that, you can freely place your bets online without fear of consequence.

Gambling Licenses

In order for an online casino to legally operate anywhere in the world, it needs to have a gambling license. Gambling licences are issued by various jurisdictions and allows the casino to run legal gambling websites in several countries across the world.

Two of the most prominent issuing bodies are the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK Gambling Commission.

Essentially, these licences create government approved casinos. A licence proves that a casino is running in a fair and secure way.

Games of Skill vs Games of Chance

In Indian law there is a clear distinction between games of skill and games of chance.

A game of chance is one where no knowledge or ability can affect the outcome. Whereas a game of skill can be defined as a game where skill or knowledge can actually help you win.

The reason it’s usually ok to place your bets on the horses is because this form of betting was classed as a combination of a game of chance and a game of luck a few years back by the courts.

The biggest question is… is online gambling legal in India?

To date there are only three states that allow all forms of casinos to operate.

It’s our hope that in the near future that online gambling will become completely legal in India. Ideally not only for offshore companies, but hopefully for betting companies based within the country. By regulating legal online casinos more the government can both control risk gambling and get big benefits from the taxes acquired.

The current laws are not only unclear, but also completely outdated. Let’s face it, online gambling wasn’t even on the horizon when the laws were drafted. It really is time to take a step into the future. Hopefully we will see tons of online casino games that are legal in India soon.