Is betting legal in India? That question is essential because if not, then you’re subject to prosecution. If yes, then you have no problems and can play with ease.
The short answer is: “The federal legal situation is unclear. The states decide to legalize it or outlaw gaming”.
Read the long answer in our article to learn everything about betting legal in India.
Current Legal Situation of Online Betting
The current Indian gambling is based on the Public Gaming Act of 1867, which does not reference modern online betting. Though, it’s not the only law in the legal framework concerning gambling. Let’s learn more about it.
The power in India is divided between the center and the states. The Constitution gives the ability to enact its laws on “betting and gambling” to each state.
The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a colonial-era statute still in force. The law works in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi. Other states have published their legislation to regulate gaming/gambling. Though, primarily the laws are broadly based on the colonial document.
Is Casino Gaming Legal in India?
Gaming usually references slots, tables, and live casino games. State laws regulate online forms. Most Indian provinces define casino entertainment as games of chance and ban them forever. Though, we have exceptions: it’s Sikkim and Meghalaya states.
Sikkim permits online casino products such as legal betting apps in India and licenses them by the Sikkim Online Gaming Act, published in 2008. The products can be offered only via specific intranet terminals. Intranet means “a private enterprise network to securely share company information and resources.” The licensing authority is the Finance, Revenue, and Expenditure Department.
The Meghalaya state published its Regulation of Gaming Act in 2021. Now the state authorities give licenses for online and land-based gaming like slots, tables, wheel of fortune, etc. The power here is the state government.
Territories Goa, Daman, and Diu regulate only land-based gaming (in five-star hotels).
Poker is in the same situation:
- the states of Nagaland and Meghalaya regulate poker skill gaming;
- other states don’t regulate it at all, meaning it’s banned.
Assam, Odisha, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh forbid activities relating to online gaming, including skill gaming.
Sports Betting Regulation
Sports betting is recognized as a game of skill. Such games are mostly referred to as legitimate activities. No license is required for them in most states. Nagaland and Meghalaya provide permits for skill games.
So most state gaming laws allow sports betting under certain circumstances. Though, most gaming statutes were published before internet time and weren’t amended since that. So online sports betting and horse racing betting are in the grey zone mostly.
Sikkim and Meghalaya permit online sports betting. The first state demands it to be offered via intranet terminals; the other provides a license for organizing bets on sports.
Fantasy betting has no regulation in most states, except:
- Nagaland and Meghalaya license virtual sports fantasy league games;
- Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, and Odisha prohibit them.
Lottery and Bingo Regulation
Lotteries are allowed and have regulations on central and state levels. Though, private lotteries are banned following the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The states, which will enable that kind of game, conducted them through specific government departments or the state finance ministry.
Bingo can be defined as a lottery or chance game. In the first case, they would be allowed together with lotteries. In the second case, they are banned. So, is gambling legal in India if we speak about bingo? Not exactly.
Well, cyber activities are subject to the Information Technology Act of 2000. But, the law doesn’t mention online gambling anywhere in its text.
That’s why we can’t see official restrictions for Indian citizens to participate in online gambling from any legal offshore casino. So, again, states work it all by themselves. For example, Maharashtra has banned online betting under the “Bombay Wager Act.” Other states we mentioned earlier in the article.
What about Taxes?
The Income Tax Act of 1961 regulates all income levies in India.
- A non-resident (like a foreign company) will be taxed in India on any income which accrues or arises in India.
- A resident will be charged tax in India on his general income: income earned in and outside India.
- Income from any game would be liable to tax at 30%.
Also, you can see the equalization levy, launched in 2016. It’s a tax on digital transactions made through Indian IP addresses, so income goes to foreign e-commerce companies. Its rate is 2%.
One more tax is GST, Goods and Services Tax. Activities referencing lottery, betting, or gambling, under Indian laws, are included in the category of actionable claims or goods. So, “supply of goods” is subject to GST 28% on the entire bet amount. Though, games of skill (including sports betting) are not subject to GST.
Online services are included in “online information and database access or retrieval services.” The rate is 28% for games of chance, i.e., betting/gambling, and 18% for skill games.
The COVID Impact
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was under a nationwide lockdown. Only health care and other essential services were allowed to function. So, all land-based gaming premises were shut.
But the online market got a surge in activity. That’s why horse-racing turf clubs of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and West Bengal got permission from their authorities to offer online betting on physical horse races during the pandemic.
What about foreign operators? Is Betway legal in India? The situation is like this: Indian laws ban gambling, but it’s the foreign operators who should monitor compliance.
The History Of India’s Betting Laws
Speaking historically, is online betting legal in India? Archaeologists found terracotta dice date back to 3300 BC. Moreover, scientists have strong evidence that Indus Valley citizens participated in cockfighting and betting. For example, the holiday Diwali has religious connotations tied to gambling.
The first description of an Indian game of chance is in the Ramayana, dating back to 7300 B.C. Ramayana has a positive perception, no taboo in it. Though another classic, Mahabharata, dated back to 3200 B.C., shows the negative impact.
In 300 B.C., the nuts of the Bibhitaki trees were used as dice. Then, astragali were used as dice instead. Also, Indians started playing with animals during that period. First, they began with ram fights and cockfights and then shifted to horse racing, which is still very popular today.
In the 15th century, legal gambling houses sprung up across the country. Local authorities strictly regulated them, and players gave their dues to the king. i.e., paid a gambling tax.
Europeans heavily impacted the Indians and their love of gambling. The 1720s launched a cricket “hype” as a sport of choice, which is still actual for Indians. Also, the British brought horse racing events to colonial India. Indeed, Englishmen and Indians made a lot of bets on these sports and played tables, dice, and other games.
As gambling proliferated out of control, the Public Gambling Act of 1867 was introduced. The Act made gambling illegal. Now, the Indian laws mostly ban gambling and betting in general. Though, players don’t comply with the restrictions. Mostly, it’s only on paper and can’t stop people from gambling.
Now, legal betting app in India usually goes from foreign companies.
The operators get licenses in international jurisdictions and provide services following the rules of Curaçao, Great Britain, Malta, and other commissions.
When Will Online Betting be Legalized?
Is it possible to make online gambling in India legal at 100%? In the same way, how Great Britain and Scandinavia tested for a lot of years already.
Indian politics discuss it now, as the situation is more and more uncontrolled today. People get more cheap smartphones and high mobile traffic. So they get more accessible access to any of what they want, including games and sports betting.
The gaming industry got a surge in popularity. Experts say the market will hit a value of USD 49.63 million by 2026.
Governments strive to publish more strict regulations and bans. Though, complying with such laws is difficult. Just imagine how much police force you need to look for every smartphone and catch each gambling site. It’s too much work with no sense.
Nevertheless, politicians and legislative authorities strive to change the legal framework.
- Uttar Pradesh state drafted a bill to amend or repeal the colonial Act. But it’s still unclear when the government will adopt the bill to make regulations.
- Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also work on amendments. At least, we can hear about stances in the court concerning online gaming.
- Tamil Nadu submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court of India. The state powers lobby the total ban on stakes games, though the state’s High Court disagrees.
- Karnataka made amendments to its Police Act of 1963. The state prohibits all forms of online gaming until the authorities create a mechanism to regulate such activity.
- Telangana announced that the state would develop more friendly regulations to replace the existing colonial Act.
Best Legal Betting Sites in India
So, the answer to “Is online gambling legal in India?” remains unclear. Gaming and betting are in a grey area for now, as laws are too complicated. Also, it depends on the state where you play. Indeed, it would be best if you didn’t play in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. But, you can play in the hotels of Goa and on Sikkim terminals.
We made our ratings after long and thoughtful testing of the best international and Indian sites which provide betting services to Indian players. They work legally because they have international licenses from well-known commissions.
Offshore operators are not prohibited as long as they comply with the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules. They also must deal in the Indian currency. With these two requirements, they are recognized as legal businesses.
Best legal betting in India includes:
- great website and apps;
- a vast selection of games and sports offers;
- bonuses and promotions;
- Indian payment services which work with INR, crypto, and other currencies;
- technologies securing personal and financial data.
So, Indian players can enjoy the best games and sites legally. They can be sure that their rights are safeguarded!