India has one of the growing markets for online casinos and sports betting. Each year, millions of Indians would place bets on sports. MyBetting India reported last year that over 370 million locals would place bets on major sports events like the Indian Premier League.
With that number, are these people participating in legal online betting in India? If you're unsure of what's the legal situation of betting when you're in India, keep on reading because we have the answers for you!
Is Gambling Legal In India?
The legality of gambling in India depends on each state. This means that each state is entitled to come up with its laws on local gambling activities. So far, only the states that have legal gambling are Goa, Sikkim, and Daman.
On a national level, gambling activities are regulated by the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Since this law has been passed in that year, so there is no mention of anything online gambling-related. The Information Technology Act of 2000 also has nothing on online gambling activities.
This is why even in states with no gambling regulations in place, the locals are free to place their bets online because it's neither legal nor illegal.
Some states moved toward banning online gaming activities within their territories, including Tamil Nadu. In February 2021, the state passed an amendment that made online gambling in the state illegal. However, this didn't run its course for a long time because, by the end of 2021, the Madras High Court struck down this Tamil Nadu Amendment.
According to the High Court, this was unconstitutional as it violated and has fallen foul of Article 19(1)(g) of The Constitution. This part of the law states that people have the right to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade, or business.
The court also found that this wide-ranging ban which includes the prohibition of online poker, online sports betting, and online rummy, is excessive and disproportionate to what the state sought to achieve, which was to lessen the rising gambling-related problems in the state.
The bench also added that since 1968, rummy has always been acknowledged as a game of skill and not a game of chances. This is why there should be no grounds to ban online rummy. Furthermore, the court also called the game a legitimate business.
Last year, not only Tamil Nadu made the same move about local gambling activities, but also the state of Karnataka. Karnataka imposed a law to ban betting and wagering in online games in September last year. However, like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka eventually had to lift the ban in February this year.
The High Court also said the same thing and found the move excessive. The bench said that the impugned legislative action clamped an absolute embargo on all games of skill. They said that it defies the principle of proportionality and that it is definitely excessive. It was also ruled that it violates Article 14 of the country's Constitution because of manifest arbitrariness.
The court also said that when a statute is obscure or admits plural meanings with little for a common citizen to choose between both, the language used has definite intractability. They can be interpreted as statutes of violence to sensible citizens. This is because they are then not allowed to live securely with the law.
Furthermore, the Amendment Act is generally weak and, in contrast with Section 2(7) that allows all games regardless of the skill involved. The provisions of the Principal Act were so vague that the men of common intelligence won't be able to guess its true meaning and supposed application. This is why it is liable to be struck down.
Will India Ever Regulate Gambling Activities In The Country?
With what happened in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, will these states eventually regulate the industry instead? Or better yet, will online gaming and gambling be regulated on a national level? Well, it's hard to say what's ahead right now.
Even if both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had to retract the bans they imposed on online gaming and gambling, both states have been vocal about finding ways to fight gambling-related problems in their territories.
The High Court said themselves any way that both states are free to come up with new amendments as long as they won't violate the constitution. That said, we may still see these states or even more make a push to ban online gambling. Either that or they regulate the industry instead.