Beginning from Mahabharata when the Pandavas lost their kingdom by a throw of dice to the present day online betting business, the ‘Game of Chance’ has always held a certain charm for Indian psyche. In this article we shall be considering legal status of online gambling and casinos in India. To know about lottery laws in India check out this article by Vikrant Shetty titled- “And the Winning Number is..”
Definition of Gambling
According to List II Entry 34 of the Constitution of India-
“‘gambling’ includes any activity or undertaking whose determination is controlled or influenced by chance or accident and any activity or undertaking which is entered into or undertaken with consciousness of the risk of winning or losing (eg, prize competitions, a wagering contract) … where there is no actual transfer of goods but only payment or receipt of the difference according to the market price, which varies from the contract price.“
Legal Position of Gambling in India
Public Gambling Act, 1867 prohibits the activity of gambling. It
This central legislation defines gaming houses and declares gambling illegal where it is being done as a business to earn profits. Section 3 of the Act pertains to Casinos/gaming house and states that-
“any house, walled enclosure, room or place in which cards, dice, tables or other instruments of gaming are kept or used for the profit or gain of the person owning, occupying, using or keeping such house, enclosure, room or place, whether by way of charge for the use of the instruments of gaming or of the house, enclosure, room or place, or otherwise.“
- Occupying, owning or using the land on which gambling takes place is a crime.
- Even visiting a place where gambling takes place is a crime. You need not be an active participant to be charged with the crime.
- The police have full authority to search, enter, arrest all the occupants and seize all the gambling instruments.
Section 12 of the Act provides the criteria for declaring any game as illegal i.e whether it is based on chance or skill.
Skill based games, wherever played are not illegal.. In MJ Shivani v. State of Karnataka, Supreme Court ruled that games where the element of chance is predominant fall under the category of gamble. Ardent Indian gamblers argue that ‘Poker’ is a skill based game and hence does not fall under the purview of the Act. But the legal position is still uncertain.(Check out this article written by Jay Sayta on www.glaws.in with regard to Legalization of Poker game in West Bengal)
Online Gambling in India
Online Gambling is prohibited in India in general. People indulge themselves in websites being run illegally.
Government published some new gambling related rules under in the Gazette of India in April, 2011 under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (Here is the link to the document). These guidelines make it compulsory for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ban the illegal gambling and online betting websites specially those which are being operated from foreign countries. But it is going to be a tough task for the ISPs because people running such websites are quite artful, as soon as the ISP bans their website they simply change the domain name and start operating in India again. Indians who bet money on offshore website by using online transactions end up violating Forex Laws (primarily Foreign Exchange Management Act) as well.
Government of Sikkim is giving out licenses to run gambling websites. The websites will be up and running in a few months time. But the obvious legal question would be that these websites will be available to everyone, even those residing in states where gambling is not legalized. The answer to this question is yet to be answered by the Govt.
Cricket betting is illegal in India but is undertaken regularly by thousands. Various newspapers like the Indian Express, The Guardian & The Telegraph(UK) have reported that the Asian cricket betting rings are directly funding to Al- Qaida run terrorist activities. The International cricket Council has urged the Indian Government to legalize the cricket betting so that flow of money can be monitored. It will also be a source for tax.
Lottery Laws in India
To elaborate the position of Lottery Laws, MightyLaws’ author Vikrant Shetty has written an article which gives a complete overview and elaborates the legal position of Lottery Laws in India. Here is the link – “And the Winning Number is-..”
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