Which Betting Options In India Are Legal?

Betting and gambling are a state subject in India, which means states are free to enact their own laws regarding such activities

When it comes to betting and gambling, there are two broad ways to look at it. One line of thought goes against betting and gambling by linking it to activities such as corruption, crime and money laundering. In comparison, many people believe that betting and gambling can generate significant revenue for the state. Such funds can then be used for development and welfare activities. Nonetheless, what is more important is to understand the legality of betting and gambling in India. For that, we need to know betting options in India that are legal.

The Public Gambling Act of 1867 – Under the central legislation of the Public Gambling Act of 1867, there is a prohibition on public gaming establishments. However, the law provides that states are free to enact their own rules about betting and gambling. Furthermore, the Information Technology Act 2000 does not talk specifically about betting and gambling. As such, it is the state laws that primarily govern the legality of betting and gambling activities. Courts have provided their inputs, but only in specific cases such as Horse racing, Rummy, etc.

Game of skill vs. Game of chance – As per a Supreme Court judgement, betting on a game or sport that requires skills can be considered as legal. But if the betting is based purely on chance, it may be considered an illegal activity. However, the legality of betting and gambling activities will ultimately depend on the state laws. Court rulings have been only for specific cases and do not entirely allow or disallow any betting / gambling activities.

Evaluating betting options in India that are legal

Is Cricket betting legal in India?

As per the Central Government, cricket betting is considered a game of chance and not a game of skill. However, there are no specific laws that govern cricket betting in India. Entities involved in offline cricket betting that is based purely on chance may have to face legal action. This is especially true if other charges are involved such as match fixing, income tax evasion, money laundering, criminal intimidation, etc.

A more legit form of cricket betting is done via fantasy cricket betting apps in India. In Fantasy Cricket betting, users have to utilize their knowledge of cricket and players to win. Hence, such betting activity will be treated as a game of skill. Furthermore, the online cricket betting site may be operating from an overseas location. Hence, Indian laws may not be applicable on such betting apps or websites. But the government can take action if there is suspicion of income tax evasion, money laundering, criminal nexus, terror links, etc.

Horse race betting / Sports betting

According to the Supreme Court, horse race betting requires the user to have significant skills. It includes knowledge about the horses, profile of the jockey, race track, etc. As such, horse race betting has been declared a game of skill. However, organizers of horse race betting have to follow the rules laid down by the respective state governments. In the case of sports betting, the states can decide its legality. As of now, sports betting is treated as a legal activity only in the State of Sikkim. Such sports betting activities can only be conducted within the state of Sikkim.

Casino gambling

The legality of gambling in general has been described under the Public Gambling Act. Casino gambling can be broadly classified into offline and online casino gambling. In case of offline, land-based casino gambling, it is legal in Goa and Daman. In case of online casino gambling, it is a legal activity in the State of Sikkim.

Lottery

Placing bets via lotteries is governed by the Central Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998. States can make their own rules, but they should not be in contradiction of the Central Lotteries Act. Some states like Sikkim have more freedom in terms of making their own rules on lottery activities. However, rules related to income tax, TDS, GST, etc. will be applicable for both offline and online lottery events.

Bingo

The game of Bingo is purely a game of chance and does not require any specific skills to win. Hence, it is banned in most states across India. People can play Bingo at private events, but organized Bingo on an industrial scale is banned.

Card games like Rummy, Poker, Flash

In the case of card games, the legality is determined by using the game of skill vs. game of chance reasoning. The legality is also dependent on court rulings. For example, the Karnataka High Court has ruled that a license will not be required if poker is played as a game of skill. However, the High Court of Gujarat has ruled that poker is a game of chance. Hence is it prohibited in Gujarat. In Nagaland and West Bengal, poker is treated as a game of skill and is legal.

In case of rummy, the Supreme Court has ruled that it requires considerable skill on part of the user. Hence, it cannot be termed as illegal. But in the case of the three-card game, popularly known as flash, flush, teen patti, etc., it has been considered purely a game of chance. It will depend on state laws if such card games are treated as legal or illegal.

It is important to understand that betting and gambling can be highly addictive. Moreover, there are considerable financial risks involved. For betting, use only funds that you can afford to lose.

 

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