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Gambling In India: Is Gambling Legal In India? Laws And Their Analysis

Life of an average human being involves various social acts, including cultural events, group activities and etc. For the purpose of entertainment humans play, watch and participate in different sports and games. Engagement in gaming or sports activity has been the best way to spend the leisure time. With the inclination of humans towards sports and games, the concept of wagering money on these events is also getting prevalent and is slowly dominating over the games and sports sector of our society.

WAGERING MONEY or GAMBLING is considered to be extremely ancient. We see examples in our ancient holy books Mahabharata, and also Gambling with dice(aksha) was very common during the Vedic period. Even the hymns of Rig Veda and Atharva Veda and the verses of Manu Smriti contain traces of gambling. In these scriptures, gambling is shown as a cause of destruction and a burden for the family of the gambler.

Therefore, We can say gambling has been in existence for longer than it is believed now. People engage in this act of wagering money or things merely with the view to fulfil their financial needs. The win or loss may rely upon knowledge or skill or just the stroke of luck.

This article will try to wrap up everything regarding Gambling, its legality, and critically analyze the policies of the government.

It will chiefly cover all the aspects and facets related to Sports Betting in India

What Is Gambling?

The act of wagering or betting, money or something of value on an event, with an uncertain outcome, with the intent to win more money or things of value than was wagered.

In other words,

Gambling involves risking something of value, including money, for the chance of winning more than you risked.

To conclude gambling has three basic elements involved:
  1. Consideration (the money or thing of value wagered)
  2. Risk (the chance of winning or losing the consideration)
  3. Prize (the return you get after winning or losing the event)

Some Definitions Of Gambling

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, gambling can be defined as "the practice of risking money or other stakes in a game or bet". Moreover, the Black's Law dictionary on the other hand defines 'gamble' as "to play, or game, for money or other stake; hence to stake money or other thing of value on an uncertain event. It involves not only chance, but a hope of gaining something beyond the amount played".

These definitions highlight that the intrinsic element of gambling is taking a risk or putting something at stake. It is pertinent to note that any activity that falls under the term 'gambling' could be legal as well as illegal depending upon the jurisdiction within which it is carried on.

Gambling can further be bifurcated into:
  1. Skill based
  2. Luck based
Skill based gambling can be defined as, staking consideration on a game which requires your skill, to win the money. For example :- carrom, chess, golf, and etc. On the contrary

Luck or chance based gambling is the type of gambling in which , staking consideration on a game which does not requires any skill, but is totally based on a stroke of luck. For example :- casinos, card game, online sports betting etc.

Therefore to conclude:

When winning or losing is an outcome accruing out of skill it is a skill based gamble, on the other hand when winning or losing is an outcome accruing out of mere luck and probability then it is a luck based gamble.

Laws Governing Gambling In India

Gambling is a state subject, and states in India are entitled to formulate or make laws for gambling activities within their respective jurisdiction. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a central law that prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. The Act also prohibits visiting gambling houses.

As discussed earlier Indian law also classifies games into two broad categories:
Game of skill and Game of chance.

In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana and Ors. (1968), the Supreme Court held that the game of 'rummy' requires skill, as building up rummy needs competency, while success in three card games like flush is completely based on chance.

Gambling based on luck are considered totally illegal except in the state of, Goa and Sikkim and Daman, where casinos are allowed and regulated by their respective laws

Gambling In India


These are the forms of gambling which are usually held by government at regular intervals. The lottery events are regulated by The Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998.

Horse Racing:

Horse racing events is considered a game of skill and, therefore, is legal in India

Sports Betting In India:

Sports betting is a form of gambling that involves placing of bets on the outcome of sporting event. Sports betting is totally banned in India.

Sports betting in India
Sports betting has become very common in today's world. Big countries like India where sports is in infancy is facing the issues related to legality of sports betting. There are different forms of sports betting that take place everywhere. This may aghast you but to apprise you sports betting can also extend to non-athletic events, such as reality show, contests and political elections. The betting has transformed how games are even played.

With over 4.0 billion fans in the world, it won't shock anyone to find that football owns the biggest sport betting market. Europe holds the largest sports betting market across the world. The betting market records a high demand from European betting consumers, who bet across multiple leagues, pre-match, and in-play.

Increasing interest of people in sports in India, is also exposing them to the betting world. Even in India betting is now a very common word. India's sports betting market is dominated by cricket. Indians and their love for cricket gave birth to this unwanted form of wager; on the outcome of the game.

And as there is no age restriction to watch the cricket, persons from every age group are getting exposed to this anomalous market. After cricket, football is the second most popular sport in India. The uncertainty of the result of the sports is the biggest attraction. But as soon as the money comes into play, results are likely to get affected. Match fixing is therefore the major threat to sports and the advent of betting has increased the risk of match fixing.

According to latest studies and reports:
Annual market size of betting market is estimated anywhere between USD 40 billion and 150 billion and also every 8th person is exposed to betting or to be precise every 4th person who is using internet is involved in betting.

Laws Governing Sports Betting In India

Laws regulating sports betting in India are very much ambiguous and non conclusive. The legislation fails to make it clear, what is legal and what is not. Sports betting in India is mainly illegal except for the betting on horse races. Any other sports in India on which betting is prevalent is based on the laws of the individual states.

Although considering the whole country, if there is any law regulating the sports betting, then it is Public Gambling Act of 1867 and the Information Technology Act of 2000. Under these acts , sports betting is totally illegal but individual states have right to make their own laws. But according to the same outdated law, 'Public Gambling Act (1867)',all kinds of gambling in India are illegal but no specific law exist in the Indian system that prohibit online gambling. On the

other hand in 'The information technology Act,2000' does mention nothing related to betting or sports betting. This acts as a loophole and the companies providing betting platforms use it as per their convenience.

While bookmakers in India are considered totally illegal, there is no specific law in India which bans an individual customer from placing an online bet with bookmaker based outside India.

There is no absolute specific law to govern the gambling and betting in India. But to this, the question arises, is online betting legal in India?

We have no answer if online betting is legal or illegal in India. On the other hand if the same thing is done or committed through offline modes then it is definitely illegal. There are various online Gambling sites available which accept bets from every state in India and nothing can be done about it because they are foreign companies.

The Information Technology Act 2000 regulates cyber activities in India does not mention the word Gambling or betting thereby the act was left for interpretation by the courts.

In order to protect the public from these activities and to increase transparency there is a need to study, examine and analyze the pros and cons of legalizing or not legalizing the sports betting as whole and then make proper laws to govern the same. Pros may include, the unexpected huge sum of money, which may be generated as a revenue which can be further used by the government for development of the country. On the contrary, it should be kept in mind that it may increase, difference in wealth distribution, in our country which is already uneven.

Therefore, it can be concluded that we do not have one word answer to the question, whether gambling is legal in India. From bifurcating the type of gamble (whether skill based or luck based), to differentiating the modes of placing bet (online or offline) the law is not rigid and absolute.

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