Online gambling laws: The rules and their impact on players in India

With a population exceeding one billion people, there is little surprise that there are plenty of people in India who like to gamble. The number one gambling choice is sports betting, cricket being the leading sport and its most popular pastime.

Despite the numbers which take part in sports betting, it still remains a stringent law that forbids the practice. Most of the laws and legislation which regulate gambling on a whole, are outdated and unclear, so we’re going to breakdown the facts regarding online gambling inside of India.

How Gambling is Viewed by the Laws in India

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Credit: xtock

The laws that govern traditional forms of gambling are supported by the Public Gaming Act of 1867, no, that is not a type-o. This act originally only applied to ten of the states which formally under the rule of the British empire. Since then, it was amended once, to incorporate all Indian states under the ruling which is over 100 years old.

The public act made it illegal to open a venue where gambling would take place. If there was a venue, it would be illegal to visit one. Despite this, there is no actual definition of what gambling is. The law is certainly vague as it read: “[…] the act shall not apply to certain games of mere skill.” So, does this, therefore, mean that gambling on cricket is acceptable given it is a sport of certain skill?

Within the Constitution of India, gambling is defined by “Any activity which is influenced by chance or accident and whereby activity is entered with the consciousness of risk resulting in winning or losing.” Again, vague and perhaps suggesting that any process where the money is wagered for the act of gain or loss constitutes as gambling, this would, therefore, make betting on cricket illegal.

So, how does this affect online gambling? The online casino India market is now a growing movement, that hosts an abundance of live casino games of roulette and blackjack, online slot machines and worldwide events in sport that can be bet on. Do these laws apply for something which is not physically on Indian soil?

The Online Gambling Paradox in India

The 1867 Gambling Act makes no reference to online gambling, clearly, and as it has not been updated in 100 years, then what are the rules? The only legislation which comes close to the option of gambling online comes from the Information Technology Act of 2000. This act covers various offences relating to the use of the Internet. Gambling is not specifically mentioned but allows the Indian government to block any websites considered foreign.

Online casinos predominately hail from European countries, they are licensed and regulated by gaming authorities, that, in turn, will approach another foreign body to seek acceptance to offer their services in that country. So, in the current online market, a website that was approved by the UK Gambling Commission will seek legal clearance to have their site made available to players in India, usually at an annual cost to the casino.

One thing is clear despite all of this, there is no legal grounding that can suspend a player from playing in a casino which is online. There are no laws to tax rupees won from foreign casinos and to bypass the FEMA Act of 1999, players can use alternative methods of payments such as e-wallets like Skrill or Neteller, or perhaps even Bitcoins.

In 2014, the first license to an online operator was granted which now allows, legally, the online casino and future ones, to provide a service where real money can be won from their gaming services. This new state law now changes everything, to the benefit of the players out there in India.



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