The fact that India is comprised of several states and that they all have their separate sets of gambling regulations and regulative bodies can make this topic difficult to follow.
The Public Gambling act of 1857 is the most important piece of legislation on a national level, but states still have a lot of freedom on how they chose to proceed. Some states adhere to this act to the letter, while others enact separate regulations within their jurisdictions.
As a result, there is still some confusion among Indians about whether they are allowed to gamble or not. For example, we can still read news about people getting arrested for gambling in some states. The rise of online gambling in the country makes things even more complicated.
According to the Public Gambling Act, operating a public gambling house incurs a fine of ₹200. Even visiting gambling houses can net you a fine of ₹100 or even imprisonment. However, it should be noted that this act is horribly outdated. It is rarely enforced in states which rely purely on this national law.
That being said, three states explicitly permit gambling and casinos: Goa, Sikkim, and the Daman district, which are popular destinations for gamblers. However, this purely refers to traditional land-based casinos. Once we go into the world of online casinos, even these few regulations start to feel irrelevant.
While many states have not yet properly defined their stance on internet casinos and sportsbooks, let’s take a look at examples of those that did.
The Sikkim Online Gaming regulation and the Nagaland Prohibition of Gaming and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act are the only ones which specifically mention online and virtual gambling.
In Sikkim, online gambling is only allowed as a service from operators which are registered in the state. Importantly, the service provider must have physical premises in the state to obtain a gambling licence, which severely limits the number of available online casinos.
In Nagaland, the only forms of gambling which are allowed are ones that involve skill rather than luck. This approach to regulating gambling can be seen throughout India and has been the subject of a lot of controversy over the years. While the spirit of the law is fairly easy to understand, the lines between games of skill and luck-based games can become very blurry at times.
Either way, games of skill in Nagaland are permitted, which generally means games like rummy, poker, or even sports betting. Licence holders can maintain online operations from any state in India in which gambling is allowed.
Lastly, online gambling is a banned offence in Maharashtra under the "Bombay Wager Act”. Getting caught gambling online can incur a hefty fine there – but at least this law is fairly clear. Gujarat is another sate in which gambling prohibition is heavily enforced.
If all of the above has left you even more confused then before – don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, there is good news as well. If you live in any Indian state besides the ones we mentioned above, you can wager online without much reason to worry.
While gambling companies based in India are not allowed to host or promote online gambling, sports betting, and other services, non-Indian companies are perfectly fine. The only requirement is that such casinos and betting sites need to offer Indian Rupees as a payment option. This has allowed some of the world’s most respected online gambling companies to open their doors to Indian players. Some of the best casino sites for Indian gambling market are international companies.
However, because the law is lacking in this department, you have to be very careful about which sites you trust. Remember, if you become the victim of a scam or something similar, the authorities probably won’t be able to help you. This can be quite a big problem if we take into account inadequate data protection laws in India.
This doesn’t have to mean gambling online is risky, though. Respected offshore companies still have to possess local gambling licences, and many of them are perfectly legitimate, secure businesses.