Posted on October 13, 2020 at 11:01 pm

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A Rundown on Indian Gambling Scene and Applicable Legislations

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Indian gambling industry is growing exponentially with new punters taking up online gambling in increasing numbers. Let’s have a closer look at the state of affairs in the gambling industry about the applicable laws and legality issues.   

Courtesy a study by the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS), the Indian gambling industry was worth INR 62 billion in 2019. Growing at a rate of 20% annually, it’ll be worth INR 250 billion by 2024. In the last 10 years, 80% of Indians have wagered at least once yearly on sports, slots, lottery, horse racing, video poker, and card games, notably Teen Patti and Andar Bahar. 

Online gambling is the new interest zone in the gambling space with punters flocking to casino websites for their daily dose of entertainment and earnings. These are early days for the online gambling niche, but it will be raking in over $405 million yearly in revenue, come 2022. By 2024, 32 million Indian internet users will gamble online, up from 17.2 million in 2018-19. 

A Rundown on Indian Gambling Scene and Applicable Legislations

The numbers, on the one hand, reveal encouraging signs for the Indian gambling industry, and on the other, establish the passion India has for gambling. However, love is not a newfound one; there’s a long history to it, stretching across millenniums and civilizations. ENVs research about Indian offshore casinos unearths some interesting trends and historicity of gambling.

ENV research also uncovers the I-gaming preferences of Indian punters. Roulette is a hands-down favorite, driving a legion of players to web-based casinos from across all age groups, genders, and occupations. It’s followed by Baccarat, Blackjack, Indian Rummy, and Slots in terms of popularity. As evident as it is, Indians have a strong predilection for games of chance.  

A historical perspective

The history of gambling in the Indian subcontinent dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. The excavations here led to the discovery of sandstone and terracotta dices that evidences the prevalence of some form of gambling is perhaps the oldest of all civilizations known to us. 

Gambling also finds strong references in ancient Indian scriptures, notably the Mahabharata, which details how a rigged dice game led to war. The games and playing preferences might have changed over the years though, the love for gambling remains intact, nonetheless. 

The Indian gambling laws: An overview:

There’re strong narratives for and against gambling. Anti-gambling lobbyists consider it an absolute vice, a cause of societal moral degradation, corruption, crime, and money laundering. Proponents of gambling, on the other hand, reflect on it as a significant revenue contributor to the state exchequer. The fact that Goa generated INR135 Crores of revenue through casinos in 2013 lends credence to their cause. Indian gambling laws are a reflection of these opinions.      

The Indian gambling laws are muddled, varying from state to state. The reason being, gambling is a state subject, meaning every state of the union can enact its gambling legislation in its territory.  The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is a central legislation that proscribes gambling operations and their ownership. All states, except Goa, Daman, and Sikkim have adopted the act, restricting gambling activities on their soil with horse racing and lottery being exceptions.

Providing more information about gambling laws in India, ENV elaborates on the punitive provisions in the Public Gambling Act for violators. Anyone running a gambling operation can be served a 3-month sentence and INR 200 fine. Punters frequenting the illicit casinos are liable to one month sentence and INR 100 fine. However, gambling on Diwali isn’t considered a crime, given the auspicious connotations attached to betting on this occasion in the Hindu mythology.      

In India, or for that matter in virtually all countries, games are classified under two categories, games of chance and games of skill. The games of skill require some planning and skills to ace the dealer and opponents. Examples include collectible card games, mahjong, and Rummy. Conversely, games of chance like the lottery, and certain card games, rely solely on luck. Section 12 of the Public Gaming Act recognizes games of skill as gambling and discards games of chance.   

Online gambling laws are even complex and mind-numbing. The legislations prohibit any India-based casino websites but at the same time allow offshore casinos to target the Indian audience. The legal compliance norms for offshore online casinos are simple, just mandating them to accept deposits and make payouts in Indian Rupees. However, a sport website like 10Cric, which is an offshore operation, should have licenses from a reliable gaming jurisdiction.

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