A Rundown on Indian Gambling Scene and Applicable Legislations

Indian gambling industry is growing exponentially, with new punters taking up online gambling in increasing numbers. Let’s have a closer look at the state of affairs in the gambling industry about the applicable laws and legality issues.

As per the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) study, the Indian gambling industry was worth INR 62 billion in 2019. Growing at a rate of 20% annually, it’ll be worth INR 250 billion by 2024. In the last ten years, 80% of Indians have wagered at least once a year on sports, slots, lottery, horse racing, video poker, and card games, notably Teen Patti and Andar Bahar.

Online gambling is the new interest zone in the gambling space, with punters flocking to casino websites for their daily dose of entertainment and earnings. These are early days for the online gambling niche, but it will be raking in over $405 million yearly in revenue come 2022. By 2024, 32 million Indian internet users will gamble online, up from 17.2 million in 2018-19.

On the one hand, the numbers reveal encouraging signs for the Indian gambling industry and establish the passion India has for gambling. The availability of credible betting platforms and gambling games plays a critical role.

For instance, live casino games are a hands-down favourite, driving a legion of players to web-based casinos from across all age groups, genders, and occupations. Games like Baccarat, Blackjack, Indian Rummy, and Slots are the most popular ones.

A historical perspective:

The history of gambling in the Indian subcontinent dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. The excavations here led to the discovery of sandstone and terracotta dice that evidences the prevalence of some form of gambling is perhaps the oldest of all civilizations known to us.

Gambling also finds strong references in ancient Indian scriptures, notably the Mahabharata, which details how a rigged dice game led to war. The games and playing preferences might have changed over the years, but the love for gambling remains intact.

The Indian gambling laws – An overview:

There’re strong narratives for and against gambling. Anti-gambling lobbyists consider it an absolute vice, a cause of societal moral degradation, corruption, crime, and money laundering. In contrast, proponents of gambling reflect on it as a significant revenue contributor to the state exchequer. The fact that Goa generated INR 135 Crores of revenue through casinos in 2013 lends credence to their cause. Indian gambling laws are a reflection of these opinions.

The Indian gambling laws are muddled, varying from state to state. The reason is, gambling is a state subject, meaning every state of the union can enact its gambling legislation in its territory. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a central legislation that proscribes gambling operations and their ownership. Except for Goa, Daman and Sikkim, all states have adopted the act, restricting gambling activities on their soil, with horse racing and lottery being exceptions.

Anyone running a gambling operation can be served a 3-month sentence and INR 200 fine. Punters frequenting the illicit casinos are liable to one month sentence and INR 100 fine. However, gambling on Diwali isn’t considered a crime, given the auspicious connotations attached to betting on this occasion in Hindu mythology.

In India, or for that matter, in virtually all countries, games are classified under two categories, games of chance and games of skill. The games of skill require some planning and skills to ace the dealer and opponents. Examples include collectable card games, mahjong and Rummy. Conversely, games of chance like the lottery, and certain card games, rely solely on luck. Section 12 of the Public Gaming Act recognizes games of skill and discards games of chance. Online gambling laws are even complex and mind-numbing.

The legislations prohibit any India-based casino websites but at the same time allow offshore casinos to target Indian audiences. The legal compliance norms for offshore online casinos are simple, just mandating them to accept deposits and make payouts in Indian Rupees. However, these offshore platforms should have licenses from a reliable gaming jurisdiction.

If you are planning to place bets on such gaming platforms, it is completely legal. However, it is advisable to partner with legitimate betting platforms.

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