Gambling in India is nothing new. People have been gambling since before the time of Raja-Maharaja and voices to curb the gambling practices are also consistent ever since.
Case in point, Mahabharata. Yudhisthir, the eldest Pandav, couldn’t refuse Duryodhans offer to play a hand of “chausar” because of the old maxim that says “Kshetriya shouldn’t refuse a challenge in gambling or dueling.”
Yudhisthir even lost his own wife in the said gambling bonanza and still sat for the second time to honor the maxim and play even though he knew the game was rigged in Duryodhans favor.
This is the story that every child knows in India. Our culture always had both the fanatics and skeptics of vices and virtues of gambling.
But that’s enough history. What is the state of gambling in India today? Do states have their own laws? That is the question we will take a deep dive into.
For starters, the central government has one rule that pertains to gambling. The Public Gaming Act of 1867. This rule discourages anyone from operating a gaming house or visiting one.
However, when it comes to legislating gambling, states have the right to do what’s best for them. As a result, the law and legalities vary according to the state. That’s the decentralized democracy working for you.
As for the central government, it finds gambling wrong whenever it can. It defines gambling as a game of chance, however, there is a precedence that the Supreme Court of India set when it ruled that the popular 52 card game “Rummy” is not the game of chance as there is a significant amount of skill involved.
With that being said, what about online gambling then? Is it legal or not?
Online Gambling- Legal?
Well, the answer to this one is both yes and no.
Yes, online gambling is legal if the gambling site is not hosted in India. No, it is illegal if it is hosted in India.
Consider an online gambling site like our very own Baazi247, which is hosted offshore. They are registered and operate abroad and doesn’t fall under Indian territory and hence not under the purview of Indian law.
To add to that, the cyber activities of India are regulated under legislation passed in 2000 called the “Information Technology Act.” Interestingly, it doesn’t contain the word gambling in it, so it is left up to the courts to interpret in the best possible manner.
Since online gambling in India is still in the early stages, the lawmakers have not come around to architecting law around it. It remains to be seen what kind of laws will be passed as Online Gambling is getting popular and bigger with the passing of each day.
As of now, the Indian population can enjoy online gambling without any hassle since no law prohibits it. However, some states have come around to restrict it.
What are different states doing about Gambling then?
According to States
The rules of different states for gambling are a mixed bag of good news and bad news for the gambling enthusiast.
The state government is smaller than central, closer to the populace, and sees online gambling as a very steady source of income for the state if allowed and regulated properly.
Think Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Thanks to the thriving gambling culture, millions of jobs have been created within these cities and the states reap sweet revenue in the millions every year. It’s a win-win.
The state of Goa seems to be venturing in a similar direction. It is the leading state in terms of regulating gambling in India and its casinos are generating more than 100 crores in revenue for the state, year after year.
In 2020, states Telangana and Andra Pradesh have tried to put a restraint on online gambling practices. The execution is yet to be seen.
The state of Sikkim on the other hand is the first state to try and provide licensing to the online gambling sites operating within the state. This battle is still being fought on the courts as there are several arguments to be made by both sides.
Keep in Mind
With the lack of proper oversight by the government and adding restrictive laws on top of that, India now is fertile ground for scammy gambling sites that dupe millions of online players every year.
Also, the betting rings run amok on violence and threat and do not pay out even when the bet is won by the people.
It seems that legalizing all forms of gambling and maintaining proper oversight is the proper way to create a healthy gambling culture with all players, state, country, and tax-payers getting the reward. What road do Indian lawmakers take remains to be seen?
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