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What Legal Gambling is available in Maharashtra?
Physical casinos and gambling institutions are still for the most part illegal in the state, as it is in much of India. Same goes for most bets placed on sports.
Two types of gambling that are allowed in Maharashtra are games of skill and horseracing.
Wagering money on games of chance is officially banned in Maharashtra. At present there aren’t any legal betting shops. There is also no physical spot where you can play bingo or bet on jackpot games.
Playing online casino from Maharashtra is legal depending on where the online casino is located.
The Gambling Act of Maharashtra
Maharashtra’s gambling laws are actually more specific than most. They are covered by the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887. That said, it’s actually pretty outdated and many believe it is no longer relevant in today’s world.
The biggest offence under this act is to run a gambling house. The punishment isn’t too harsh though, carrying only a one-month prison term and a very small fine of just ₹200.
What is officially legal in Maharashtra is horse racing, the lottery and games of skill. Luckily, there is nothing explicitly against Maharashtra online casinos. As long as they are registered outside of India, gamblers can wager in them.
Since gambling houses are officially outlawed in Maharashtra, you won’t find any legal casinos in Mumbai. That said, where there is a will, there is a way, and since the punishment isn’t too harsh, many risk it and operate illegal Maharashtra casinos.
Alternatively, for die hard gaming fans, players can travel to Goa to play legally at land-based casinos.
One of the biggest loopholes in the legality of gambling in Maharashtra comes down to how long ago it was written up.
So long ago that the internet didn’t exist, so there is nothing stopping online casinos from operating in Mumbai and Maharashtra as a whole.
Lotteries in Maharashtra
Fortunately for lottery players in Maharashtra, lotteries are legal in the state. Regulated by the Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998, only agents who are authorised by the state can sell lottery tickets. Unlike playing at a casino, selling unauthorised lottery tickets comes with a much harsher sentence of up to two years in prison.
The Maharashtra lottery has been running strong since 1969. The revenue earned through the lottery helps raise money to improve infrastructure, improve the welfare of women and children, provide healthcare facilities and boost the agricultural sector.
Tickets can be bought for as little as 30 rupees, and prize draws take place almost daily.
To become an agent, you’ll need to register directly with the deputy commissioner of lottery tax.
Sports Betting in Maharashtra
Under the regulations of the state of Maharashtra the only sports betting allowed is on horseracing. That’s not to say that punters don’t find a way around the regulations, you can rest assured that there is a fair amount of illegal betting, especially Maharashtra cricket betting.
Sports betting in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra are regulated by the Public Gaming Act, 1867. Just like in the case of wagering in casinos, sports betting laws can be easily circumvented by placing your sports bets at offshore online betting agencies.
If you do want the thrill of placing bets live, you can still wager at the horse track. This is regulated by the Bombay Race Courses Licensing Act, 1912.
Curious to know why it’s allowed?
It’s simply because it is considered both a game of chance and a game of skill, making it fairer. If you do manage to win big, you’re in for a little bit of disappointment as you’ll be taxed at 30.9%.
Games of Skill
Wagering real money on games of skill, including a number of card games, is considered legal in Maharashtra. The catch is that they must be considered games of skill.
It should be noted though, that just like a casino, these games cannot be wagered on at a gambling house. But you are free to play them for real money at a friend’s house or in a park.
In terms of playing these games online, you’ll only need to play at casinos and poker rooms that are outside of India. The plus side of this is that you’ll have more variety and can play games that aren’t necessarily considered games of skill.