This guide aims to explore the state of online casino in India from a legal standpoint. Is Online Casino Legal in India?
Backstory: Online Gambling in India
Gambling is not an activity foreign to India. References to gambling can be traced back to the times of Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic dating back to 7300 B.C. It contains archaic references to dice.
Another epic, Mahabharata, also referenced a dice game which involves a king and his greed. In addition, there were also ancient Buddhist texts which briefly explored the subject of animal sports betting.
When come to question of is online casino legal in India, in modern day India, there are legal restrictions to gambling, similar to the stance adopted by many governments worldwide. While Indians flocked to Kathmandu (due to close proximity) for live casino gambling, this was changed when Deltin Caravela, an offshore casino, was opened in Goa, India. Since then, other casinos have followed suit with this trend.
This offshore casino trend is also challenged by the first onshore casino, Casino Mayfair in Mayfair Gangtok, Sikkim. This marked the transition from offshore to onshore casino trend, albeit not widespread. However, the biggest casino operator to date in India is owned by Deltin Corp Limited which operates different casino brands.
On the other hand, online casinos are in the emerging ‘grey zone’ with limited regulation by the government. As the access to international online casino websites are not restricted, Indians are spoiled by choices for their gambling fix.
Is it legal to play online casino in India? Betting and gambling is listed under Entry 34 of the State List. Therefore, the states have legal authority to make laws regarding betting and gambling. In addition, Entry 36 of the State List permits the states to gain tax revenue from betting and gambling.
Is online casino legal in India? There are also other legislations at large that govern the gambling industry.
a. Public Gambling Act 1857
Prohibition on the operation of public gambling houses.
b. Information Technology Act 2000
The authority has power to regulate cyber activities. However, ‘online gambling’ is not explicitly specified.
c. Prize Competition Act 1955
Prohibition on competitions or any activities that rewards winners with total value of prizes exceeding Rs 1000 in any month.
d. Lotteries Regulation Act 1998
States are permitted to organize state-run lotteries and it sets the rules to conduct lotteries
The biggest impact of gambling legislation in India is attributed to Public Gambling Act 1976 which permitted 3 states, Goa, Daman, and Sikkim to operate casinos.
These states permitted the operation of offshore casinos (dominant), and onshore casinos (albeit less common). These states become a haven for gambling aficionados and casino operators to make profit.
Interestingly, the state of Sikkim is the frontrunner for online gambling with Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules 2009. This would permit games of luck such as keno, bingo, blackjack, roulette, and others to be legal games in online casinos.
The spirit of trendsetting is further seen in the state government's attempt to rally for its services to be made available across India.
The Current Legal Situation of Online Gambling in India
Is Online Casino Legal in India? Most gamblers ponder whether online casino in India is legal. As online casinos typically host a wide variety of games, this results in complications to regulate the games as they are distinguished in two categories - games of skill and games of chance.
Games of skill is where players bet on a person’s competency in a game. In comparison, games of chance require players to bet on numbers. However, not all casino games can clearly be grouped in one of these categories.
For instance, while you must possess skills to memorize combinations of cards and form a winning hand, it also takes luck to get the right cards.
State governments have power to legalize online gambling, and states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have outlawed online gambling. In contrast, progress can also be seen in other states such as Nagaland, Sikkim, Goa.
a. Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling Act
The state government outlawed all games of chance. However, it grants licenses to online casino operators for games of skill. Licensed online casino operators can offer their services in other states where online gambling is not outlawed.
b. Sikkim Gambling Laws
The state government permits the operation of land-based casinos and it also regulated online casino industry. It has granted licenses to online casino operators to notable brands. Although some operators have acquired the licenses, not all have launched their websites in Sikkim possibly due to competition with existing unlicensed operators.
Another barrier to legal online casino is also traced to Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999. This is a financial act that is centered on international trade and foreign exchange.
While it appeared unrelated to gambling, it actually does apply to international online casino India legal. This act stipulates that depositing money in currency other than rupee is an illegal way of exchanging currency.
Things to Know Before You Play Online
Some questions other than is online casino legal in India; to ask yourself before you start gambling online:
Are you legally allowed to gamble online?
As mentioned earlier, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have outlawed online gambling. Please gamble with caution at where you live to avoid legal troubles.
How to choose the right online casino?
Do your research and look for proof of licensing. They are indicated openly on the website to build credence.
Can you play the international lottery?
Yes. However, the player should understand how to buy tickets and international fund transfer for prize money work. This may vary from online casino to another.
Can you win real money in online casinos?
Yes. Legitimate online casinos offer real payout for winnings.
Can you play online casino on mobile?
Yes. Some casino games are released as apps which are optimized for mobile devices.
Tips For Online Casino India
i. Know your house edge
Always identify low house edge games. Go for games with a low house edge such as blackjack, craps, and baccarat for better likelihood of winning. Learn to play with strategies to improve your chances of winning.
ii. Claim your bonuses
New registration and existing customers can claim incentives such as welcome bonus, deposit bonus, weekly rebate, birthday bonus, and more. These incentives help to create more money in your in-casino deposit.
iii. Play within your limits
Never gamble everything away. Grab your winnings and call it a day. The player is recommended to create a budget and adhere to it strictly. Make an exit when the player hits the expenditure limit.
iv. Utilize free plays
Think of free plays as test rounds of casino games. It involves no betting, hence no actual financial losses. Players can use them to evaluate the difficulty level of a game. It also helps to gauge your understanding of the game rules.
v. Read the fine print
Each online casino has different terms and conditions. Reading the fine print will help the players understand the mechanics behind deposits, withdrawals, disputes, and others. Knowing this information beforehand will put you in a better position to avoid being exploited by unscrupulous parties.
Is online casino legal in India?
In selected states - Nagaland, Sikkim, Goa, yes. The players in other states may still access international online casinos as there is no strict prohibition.
Is it illegal to play online casino?
In selected states - Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, yes. Online casinos are largely unregulated by most states and it remains a grey area.
What is the safest online gambling site?
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