Do Betting sites Enjoy Legal Sanctity in India? By Vikram Handa, August 5th 2020

September 28, 2020 | Vikram Handa

blackjack hand and casino chipsThe Sanctity of Legal Online betting in India? By Vikram Handa, September 28th  2020


Friends, it is time to think seriously of on line betting in India. Of course there are horse racing clubs conducting racing for more than a 100 years. But for that you have to physically visit the nearest race course where there may be live or Inter-venue betting, but still, no Online horse-race betting option.  And then there are sporting events happening all over the country. The annual cricket IPL generates one of the highest viewership’s on the planet for a sporting event. Kabaddi and badminton are also rising up the popularity charts with our very own domestic leagues. Then there are the global sports enthusiasts following international sports like football at the English Premier League (EPL), Bundesliga, Spanish and Italian football. Apart from the pleasure of watching these events, there is an added zing in being able to wager some money on your favourite horse, team or player. A bulk of the sports betting is wagered with illegal clandestine bookies. Mostly settlements are dependent on ‘trust’ and word of mouth. Always the punter is at the risk of default on winnings and at the same time, ‘collection agents’ end up knocking at your door for losing bets.


Really, the need of the hour, especially for the last few decades has been an option of Legal, legitimate betting options. The Amendment to The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling, Act in early December 1999 paved the way for the first Casinos to be set-up in India. This saw unprecedented traffic towards Goa to enhance the tourism numbers in the state. The Goa government realised that a full tourist infrastructure could be built around the legitimate gambling in the state. This was soon to be followed in the state of Sikkim as well.


However, the Casinos did not have the option of betting on actual sporting events. Casino games will always be a game of chance and as much as a disciplined approach to casino games may see a small percentage of people actually making a living out of it, it was always going to be about the entertainment and adrenaline rush of getting ‘Lucky’.


In a first of its kind approach, the Government of Nagaland started issuing online skill games license under the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act in 2016. The act is applicable on all games of skill where there is preponderance of skill over chance even though they may include placing wagers or bets. This paved the way of allowing games like Poker and Rummy to be played online for real money. On the ground it made the betting on ‘Teer’ (Archery) legitimate too. This attracted a number of foreign and domestic gaming companies to enter the Indian online betting market to set up portals for people to play with each other for real money.


The Information and Technology Act as early as June 2000 coupled with other acts like Prevention of money laundering act of 2002 ensured that legitimate entities could accept and distribute real money online amongst themselves and individual punters within the banking framework. This added to the legitimacy of online betting and gave a sense of security to the online betting public. Precision taxation made sure that the government had a piece of the pie and there was an overall recognition that revenues from online betting added big money to the Exchequer.


So now we have online betting on a select few games of skill. But an aggressive marketing and promotion strategy by experienced big names in the gambling industry have ensured that the online betting options get a boost and we see entrants offering betting on international and domestic sporting events too. Quick cash outs mean that the punter loves to ‘see the money!’. Thus we are seeing a cautious but calculated approach by the perennial betting minds towards online betting.

According to the Public Gambling Act (1867), all kinds of gambling in India are illegal,” said Vikrant Pachnanda, a Delhi high court advocate and managing editor of India Law Journal, a periodical that expresses views on topical legal issues.

But unlike in the US where there is the American Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, no specific laws exist in the Indian system that bar online gambling,” said Pachnanda.


All in all, there is a Sanctity in Online betting in India…. As it is now Legal!

Vikram Handa
Contributor since 2020

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