And the Winning Number is..


The Legislature and the Judiciary have always looked down on gambling of any sort. But honestly, how many of us can honestly say that we have never bought a lottery ticket maybe commercial one or the small lotteries in school and college events? Or is there anyone who has never played housie/lotto before?

Now among all types of gambling the legislature has made few exceptions for horse-racing, dog-racing, lotteries, etc. So, why did Imran Hashmi bet on cricket matches in ‘Jannat’when he could have (to some extent) legally placed bets on horses? Who knows!

Lottery Laws in India

Lotteries, in particular, are governed by The Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998 which is the central legislation that lays down guidelines and restrictions in conducting lotteries. The State Governments have been given the responsibility of authorizing/conducting the lotteries. That means to organize a lottery, an agency first requeries authorization from the state. The state itself can organize lotteries.  Now the laws may differ from state to state. But the basic principles remain the same. Sec 30 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 says, among other things,“no suit shall be brought for recovering anything alleged to be won on any wager, or entrusted to any person to abide the result of any game or other uncertain event on which may wager is made”.

Lottery Laws in India What does it mean? Well to put it rather simply – It is legal to buy a lottery ticket. BUT the winner of a lottery has no right to claim the winnings or get any other sort of relief or remedy against the lottery agency, ifthat agency refuses to pay the winnings. Still think it’s worth the risk? And you probably thought that the possibility of the lottery results being fixed was a bigger problem.

Why is there such a law existent? Justice Dharmadhikari was nice enough to give an answer to that question in Subhash Kumar Manwani v. State of Madhya Pradesh- To treat an agreement by way of wager as void is that the law discourages people to enter into games of chance and make earning by trying their luck instead of spending their time, energy and labour for more fruitful and useful work for themselves, their family and the society”

Indeed, lotteries have been known for ruining the economy and for being a hindrance to social development. Now, for the bigger question- If the legislature and the judiciary feel that games of chance should be discouraged and we cannot claim the winnings of a lottery, then why is organizing lotteries even legal in India?It would seem a much better idea if either, lotteries were banned altogether or their winnings would be claimable by and under law. As it is most of the common people are not aware that they have no right to claim the winnings and they therefore continue to spend on lottery tickets. Furthermore, lotteries are more luck-based in comparison to many skilled-based games in which betting are illegal.

This author leaves the task of finding the answer to that question, to the reader.

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By Vikrant Shetty on October 23, 2011 · Posted in Informative

20 Comments | Post Comment

Kaustubh says:

U are absolutely right. The Lotteries (regulation) Act. 1988 is allowing legal gambling and on the other hand The Indian Contract Act. 1872 takes away the rights to sue in case of breach of contract by the Lottery issuing State authorities. But what needs to be discussed is can this flaw be healed in any way????
Just the way SC ruled in favor of gender marriages U/S 377 and 378 of IPC calling it a unjust rule made in d past can a change be made in this issue???

Posted on October 26th, 2011

Prachi says:

very nice article.. Lottery Laws need to be strengthened & lotteries need to be eradicated totally, specially in a country like India where, more than hard work, people believe in Luck for earning money !!!

Posted on October 28th, 2011

Mrinal Shrivastava says:

Very informative and eye opening. This must be brought to the notice of people especially betters and must be published as a part of betting guidelines and in lottery tickets similar to the case of insurance policies.

Posted on October 31st, 2011

Vikrant Shetty says:

In order for the court to remove this flaw it must be proved that the existing lottery laws or contract laws are unconstitutional. This was kind of easy in the gender marriage case to say that it was violating ‘right to life’ but to make the same or similar argument for the lottery laws is difficult. I’m afraid that it is something that lies in the hands of Parliament. The courts hands are tied.

Posted on November 3rd, 2011

Kaustubh says:

I think Article 14 can help here…. Equality b4 law and equal protection of law….

Posted on November 5th, 2011

Vikrant Shetty says:

Kaustubh, I’ afraid I do not understand. How will ‘equality’ solve the problem of gambling? I believe that within right to life you will find the right to be protected against exploitation. This, ion my opinion, is more relevant to gambling laws.

Posted on November 8th, 2011

Kaustubh says:

What i meant was in d Gender case they used Article 21 as d base…
Here Article 14 can be used to demand equal treatment in terms of contract…. I mean if d Government is providing d lottery business a platform to earn money then d rights of the Consumers ( Citizens) should also be protected equally…. Just think about it…
1. All d lotteries in India are owned by different state governments.
2. But in case dat State doesn’t honor its contract by non payment of money the citizen has no right to protest thanks to Contract Act.1987…
3. So its kinda unconstitutional where government is making money and on the other hand refusing rights.
4. It can protested for demanding right to sue in case of violation and demand to get the lottery business under the ambit of Consumer Act.

Posted on November 9th, 2011

Vikrant Shetty says:

Kaustubh after close examination of Article 14 you will find that it covers right to equality based on only caste, place of birth, sex, etc. While pleading under this article ‘right to equality’ cannot be assumed in its broad sense. Even in the lottery laws case, right to life is more relevant than right to equality. Even article 23 which covers ‘right against exploitation’ speaks only in the narrow sense and would not cover this lottery laws issue.

Posted on November 11th, 2011

raj says:

vikrant can u tell me /……….. is it legal to play international lotteries trough websites?????? can indian govt. allow the money i won?????????
dude reply this in my id or tjis website plz…..dude i am in a fix………..

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Vikrant says:

Before I answer your question let me just say that it is best to take advice from a certified lawyer. The answer I am about to give is to the best of my knowledge true but does not amount as legal advice and is limited to the facts you have given me:-
Payment and Settlement Act, 2007 gives authority to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to regulate all forms of electronic payment. Please refer to Section 4 of the Act. Therefore the money you won would be illegal.
Furthermore, as mentioned in my article, the state government has to authorize any lottery for it to be legal. Even if we ignore the fact that you won, if this criteria itself is not met, the lottery is illegal.
On a non-legal note, most online lotteries are scams and you may have been cheated, in which case you need not worry about it.

Posted on February 27th, 2012

Kaustubh says:

Thanks Vikrant…. I had d same doubt as Raj………

Posted on February 28th, 2012

dr. gandhi says:

i would like to understand if programmes like kaun banega cororepati is a kind of gambling form or can be termed as a lottery.

Posted on March 8th, 2012

Nisha says:

Dr. Gandhi…. programmes like Kaun Banega Crorepati do not constitute gambling or lotteries for that matter. They come under the category of Literary competitions. The case of Subhash Kumar Manwani v. State of MP held that games in which skill is of essence or plays a major role in deciding the outcome are not gambles or wagers for that matter.

Posted on March 24th, 2012

Ave Rodriques says:

I would like to know whether conducting / playing game of Tambola or Housie legal in India?

Posted on September 22nd, 2012

Dev says:

Lottery must be legalised in India . Lottery earns a direct revenue for the state very easily as against the tobacco/alcohol corporates that comes at a big Health cost . There is no harm in playing lottery as long as there are some laws that can fix the amount of playing a game . It means like in online lottery keep the uper limit as 6 per time . Lottery does not spoil country’s time and energy as is thought , it is a mere chance and luck that plays . Developed nations do play lottery , and it is very healthy as long as it is played without scam . whats the harm if someone wins a lottery and turns into entrepreneur by spending wisely the money . I think we got to be matured and give everyone a life to dream . Please dont talk harsh against lottery . It is really exciting .

Posted on January 2nd, 2013

Ankit says:

should we can play Online Housie/Tambola in madhya pradesh.?

Posted on March 29th, 2013

kam says:

is it legal to bet online in meghalaya

Posted on April 23rd, 2013

ak shekani says:

can indian citizen play lotteries online offering by u.k. or any other country lottery agents from abroad mentioned in google it legal according to our country law is concenered.

Posted on May 12th, 2013

narayan says:

dear me! law abiders in india are fools; law breakers are wise! it is written on the wall! civil disobedience which gandhiji started unwittingly brought in psychology of masses that you must disobey law! right! protest in pre-independence resulted in causing damage to public property because it was foreigner’s asset. Now the same trend continues because the ruler is foreigner to the protesters! tell when gambling was bad in this country? how ramayana started? kaikeyi gambled for her son! how mahabharatha started, yudhishtira gambled! leave matters as it is! if possible make hay shile sun shines!

Posted on May 22nd, 2013

K Singh says:

One of the biggest problems with the lives of the common man is that there are too many laws and rules regulating his life. Why do the custodians of the nation feel that the common man must be controlled and guided all through his life. They should understand that the majority of the common man are sensible enough to know how to spend their money according to their priorities and know how much they can spare for such superflous expenses. Besides, we must also realise that here he sees his only chance to escape his monotonous existence. At least, allow him the luxury of this hopeful daydream.

Posted on August 25th, 2013