Is Betting Legal in India 


With a population of over one billion people, you are bound to find quite a few people that indulge in online betting. It comes as no surprise that sports betting is the more popular variant in a country where cricket is treated as religion. Other sports such as  horse racing attract quite a few bettors as well as the casino side of things with punters travelling to Goa to place bets on blackjack, poker and roulette.

The question you may ask is why people travel to Goa to enjoy a form of land based casino. The reason is fairly simple, gambling in India is prohibited. The legislation which set out the terms quite a few years ago has yet to be updated and very little has been made as of late to legalise gambling. To make things even more complicated, there is gambling related legislation at both state and federal level. So while Indians do find ways around this, it is not very clear as to what is legal and what is not in India. 

Public Gaming Act of 1867

The core piece of legislation that governs all things gambling in India is referred to as the Public Gaming Act of 1867. As you can tell by the date, this act came into play more than a hundred years ago well before the advent of the internet and no effort has been made to update it. Initially the act was set to apply to only ten states in India which were under British control at the time. With the passage of time, the act was rolled over to all the states.

As per the act, it was made illegal to operate an establishment where gambling could take place. It also made it illegal for punters to visit such venues but once again there was no clear cut definition of what was defined as gambling. Under the act, betting on a roll of dice was as illegal as betting on a game of cricket. While the roll can be considered an act of chance, punters can study quite a few factors before a cricket match takes place and therefore make somewhat of an informed decision on what they will bet on.

Why is Betting on Horse Racing Legal?

As mentioned earlier, horse racing is quite a popular sport in India. The country is full of race courses and unlike cricket which is mainly enjoyed by the masses, horse racing is a sport confined to the elite. It is also a sport that is legal to bet on state level which further complicates matters. Many argue the influence of the elite in India is what has led to the legalisation of horse racing while others claim the sport would not have the same appeal if punters were not allowed to bet on it.

Lotteries In India

Another form of gambling that is allowed to a certain extent is lottery. This makes little sense as there is absolutely no skill involved. All a customer is required to do here is to buy a ticket, list down certain lucky numbers and wait for the result. Yet the Lotteries (Regulation) Act of 1998 was passed to govern the operation of lotteries and is a far more recent act when compared to the one that governs gambling. 

Online Betting in India

With no clarity over gambling laws as such, online operators that are based outside of India have taken advantage of the loophole and have entered the market. The online bookmakers are aware of the potential that India presents. Regulation in gambling heavy markets such as UK and Sweden are forcing these bookmakers to change their strategy and look for punters elsewhere. With improved internet connection and mobile phones becoming even more affordable, India is the next big market. While the Information Technology Act of 2000 makes provisions for various offences relating to online activity, there’s no specific mention of online gambling being illegal. As a result there is no definitive answer to the question Is Betting Legal in India it is best to keep track of the latest betting news to know how the situation further develops in India.

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