Are Online Casinos Legal in India: Untangling Indian Gambling Laws

online gambling laws in India

There is no lack of online casinos catering to Indian players. However, most people remain uncertain as to the legality of gambling online in the country. The legal situation in the country has been somewhat unclear for a while, and this article will address some of the biggest questions you may have as a player.

Generally speaking, online gambling is not illegal in India. The only law that regulates casino activities was passed in 1867, and it naturally doesn’t address online casinos or other types of internet gaming. Thus, the overarching law doesn’t explicitly forbid online gambling and there is nothing players need to worry about.

The 1867 law only addresses land-based operators and makes it illegal for them to work within the country, unless specifically allowed to do so by individual states.

Where in India Is Gambling Explicitly Allowed?

At the moment, three states in India allow gambling. These are Sikkim, Goa, and Daman. These three states have land-based casinos, albeit with somewhat limited selection of games.

Of course, not everyone is willing or able to travel across the country just to have a bit of fun in a casino. This is why there is such a high demand for online casinos in India.

Interestingly enough, even in the states where gambling is regulated, there are no laws or licenses for online operators. The law applies only to land-based venues, while there are no locally-licensed online casinos in India.

Players are therefore pushed towards offshore operators. These casinos are based outside of the country and don’t have to adhere to any local laws. As mentioned, there is nothing in the law that would make it illegal for you to play on one of these sites. However, you need to be careful when choosing the operator, as you can’t expect any help from the local government, either.

It is far from an ideal situation, as players are left to their own means to figure out what sites can be trusted.

Attempts to Ban Online Gambling

In recent times, there have been attempts to outright ban online gambling and make it illegal for the players as well. These weren’t country-wide occurrences, though. They happened on state levels, thus only affecting players from those particular states.

The first such attempt was in Karnataka, when the state governor imposed the ban on online gambling. His decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court, though, so this particular ban was short-lived.

More recently, Tamil Nadu passed a similar law, making online gaming illegal in the state. The ban extends not just to Indian online casinos but also to sites offering games like poker and rummy. According to the text of the law, banks and financial institutions are forbidden from processing any transactions to and from such sites.

Additionally, private persons found in violation of the law could face up to a year in prison and a fine. Any gaming operators offering their services contrary to these provisions could face up to three years in prison.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the future, but if the law stands, Tamil Nadu will become the only Indian state where online gambling is explicitly prohibited and could get you in serious trouble.