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Online Gambling in India: Is it Legal?

The recent growth of gambling problems in the fast-paced digital world today around the world is alarming. People Can access to several online platforms and can play in secret where and when no one knows they are playing, that were impossible before. According to a report by The Week, 40 percent of the internet users gamble in India, and the reports highlights that India might overtake United Kingdom as well in the numbers of gamblers per captia.

What is Online Gambling?
The Constitution of India does offer a definition of Gambling. It says that gambling includes any activity or undertaking whose determination is controlled or influenced by chance or accident or any activity or undertaking which is entered into or undertaken with consciousness of the risk of winning or losing (e.g., prize competitions, a wagering contract). The Online Gambling means to use of the internet to place bets and earn money. It is held in virtual environment. This includes playing of poker, casinos and sports betting.

How online gambling works?
People can access online casinos that accept INR without the fear of prosecution. The common online banking casino methods are: credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards and cryptocurrencies. Card games are very popular among Indians, Teen Patti and Rummy draw a large number of players.

Is online gambling legal in India?
Gambling in India, being a state subject entitles the state to frame State-specific laws on betting and gambling. The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is the central enactment on the subject, which prohibits all games of chance except lotteries and games of skill. Any violation of provisions of the law would attract a fine of Indian rupees of 200 or imprisonment up to 3 months. The States in India have enacted their own legislations to regulate such activities and most of the states have an exemption for games of skill. These statutes are pretty old.

It is tricky to determine whether a game falls under a chance or skills categories. There exists a lacuna that leaves room for ambiguous interpretations. Therefore, it falls within the ambit of Indian Judiciary to interpret whether a particular game falls within ambit of the skill or not.
Future of online gambling in India

In recent years, online gambling has been a hotly debated issue in India. In July 2018, the law commission of India (LCI) urged the government to legalize gambling. And it came out with a detailed report recommending that India should legalize gambling to raise badly needed government revenue. 

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