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Is Gambling Legal in India?

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Gambling has been a confusing topic in India as there are no clear rules and regulations around it. Things get further confusing as each state in India has different rules and regulations regarding gambling. In this article, I will share my thoughts on legal gambling in India, state laws on gambling, lottery, horse race, and cricket gambling.

Is Gambling Legal in India?

Gambling in India is a grey area as there are no clear rules defined. Some games are legal while other games that are similar in nature are banned.

Betting on Horse racing and Rummy is legal as the authorities consider it as games of skill while betting on sports games like Cricket and card games like poker are not considered in the same light and hence declared illegal.

Card games also stand in the grey area in terms of its legality in India. Card games such as Texas hold em and Teen Patti are banned while surprisingly Rummy is deemed legal.

State Gambling laws in India  

Now you must be wondering when the Indian central government has made a rule about gambling then why do different states have different laws.

The answer lies in the seventh schedule of the constitution of India where the central government gives the right to the state government to make amends to the policies related to gambling and betting. According to this seventh schedule Entry 34 List 2, the states have the authority to make gambling legal if they want.

Taking this law into consideration many states have made changes to the gambling law. India has 29 states out of which 13 states have allowed lottery while two states – Goa and Sikkim have legalized many other forms of gambling like casinos, online gambling, etc.

Gambling Laws in Goa

Goa is one of the states well known for its top of line casinos and people from all over India come to play and enjoy gambling. This was possible due to two amendments made by govt of Goa. The first amendment – 26|13A and second amendment – 27 inserted by Amendment Act 13 of 1996.

This law allows the Government of Goa to permit Five-star hotels to operate electronic amusement /slot machines and table games like roulette, poker, etc.

The Govt also allows casino/gambling operation on offshore vessels provided they follow all the legal and safety protocols

Gambling Laws in Sikkim

Sikkim is one of the Indian states at the forefront of gambling in India. They have made 2 amendments to the law, The Sikkim Casino Games 2002 and The Sikkim Regulation of Gambling 2005 which gives the government the authority to grant the license to individual or business for the casino operation.

It also gives them the authority to allow gambling on certain days and make some gambling house legal as per the discretion of the government.

This is the reason Sikkim has the most numbers of lotteries in India. They had also started Playwin super lotto and Jaldi 5 lotto number lottery which are very popular games in India.

Recently the Sikkim government legalised internet gambling. They have started taking applications to license online gambling with servers located in the state. This is one of the reasons global online casino operators like Betway and LeoVegas have taken interest in the highly lucrative Indian market.

Is Lottery legal in India?

In earlier times, there were no definitive laws around gambling or lottery until 1998. The government of India enacted The central Lotteries (Regulation) Act – 1998 that allowed the authorities to legalise lotteries with the condition of a maximum of one draw per week.

Today every state in India has a lottery terminal with some organizing a draw every 15 minutes. The reason states are not following the weekly draw stated in the 1998 act is because of the right given by the constitution of India to create its own laws for gambling.

Cricket Betting in India

When it comes to cricket betting, there are no specific laws banning or favouring betting on sports like cricket. Unlike horse racing, cricket betting is not considered a game of skill and hence it falls in an undefined area. However, after the 2013 match-fixing scandal Supreme court appointed Lodha commission to analyse the feasibility of legalising cricket betting in India.

In June 2018, the law commission in its submission mentioned legalising cricket betting under stringent control which in turn will curb the money laundering cases. The commission also further stated that as per the Articles 249 and 252 of the constitution, the government has the authority to draft laws to regulate gambling.

Online Cricket Betting in India

No rule or law states online cricket betting is illegal. Also, international online betting sites have their servers outside India, hence it anyways does not come under the purview of Indian laws. Hence it is perfectly legal to participate in online cricket betting.

Betting of Horse Racing in India

One of the Irony and surprises in Indian laws is betting on horse racing. Although horse racing has a high chance of fixing to gain an unfair advantage in betting, it has been deemed legal by the government of India. Horse racing has been considered as games of skill and hence the betting on it has been allowed. There have been multiple cases filed in court challenging the legality of horse race betting but none of them had any impact on it.

The primary authority of horse racing is the Turf Authority of India. Some racecourses however are autonomous and have their own governing bodies and criteria for membership. Following are the list of racecourses in India –

  1. Royal Western India Turf club racing – Mumbai and Pune
  2. Delhi Race Club in Delhi
  3. Royal Calcutta Turf Club in Kolkata
  4. Mysore Race Club in Mysore
  5. Hyderabad Turf Club in Hyderabad
  6. Bangalore Turf Club in Bengaluru
  7. Madras Race Club in Chennai

So to conclude gambling in India is very much subjective to the type of game. It is also dependent on individual states. Some states like Goa and Sikkim allow most types of gambling while other states do not allow any sorts of gambling.

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