Over the years, India has seen a rise in gambling activities, including lotteries, casino gaming, and sports betting. The local gambling industry in India is now worth almost $1 billion and is projected to be worth over $112 billion in the next four years. These numbers make the country an area of interest for many gambling companies, including those in Europe.
Casino games like Teen Patti, Adar Bahar, and Rummy have recently seen an increase in players. The nation's love for cricket has also got them checking out IPL Betting odds in India from the leading site 10CRIC.com, due to which sports betting has also seen a rise in the country. However, despite the rise of gambling-related activities in different parts of the country, the laws surrounding it aren't as progressive as one may hope them to be.
Gambling Laws Present in India
Based on India's Public Gaming Act of 1867, all forms of gambling are forbidden. Since the internet didn't exist during the 1800s, one can argue that online gambling isn't being referred to in the act.
However, the Prize Competition Act restricts all prize competitions that exceed a prize pool of one thousand rupees per month. Meanwhile, the Technology Act of 2000 still doesn't mention anything specific about online gambling. Overall, these laws have placed online gambling in the country in a grey area.
When it comes to gambling in casinos and other establishments, only three states allow this: Sikkim, Goa, and Daman. Sikkim seems to be, so far, the most forward state when it comes to online gambling legislation. In 2008, Sikkim implemented clear online gambling regulations which allow the locals to play casino table games online. The state also attempted to issue three local licenses to online gambling operators in 2010. However, it just didn't push through.
Generally, offshore casinos and bookies can offer their services in India as long as they give the players the option to transact with the local currency. However, in January 2020, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh banned all forms of online gambling.
Karnataka is the most recent state to implement a ban on online gambling activities. JC Madhuswamy, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, recently announced in a cabinet meeting that they are amending the Karnataka Police Art. They intend to put an end to online gambling as the High Court also directs this. According to Madhuswamy, the Cabinet has already approved the amendments and presented them to the assembly.
On the said proposed bill, online games are defined as games involving all forms of wagering or betting, including tokens that have money value.
There are still exemptions to this bill; however, according to the minister, lotteries, wagering or betting on horse races done on racecourses within or outside the state will still be allowed. So far, the Cabinet has approved the draft of the said bill and introduced it in the session of the State legislature that started on September 13.
The Demand to Regulate Online Gambling
Even though gambling has been gaining popularity in the country, many continue to be held underground. Ranjana Adhikari, the co-head of Media Entertainment and Gaming Practice at Nishith Desai Associates, spoke to a Gambling insider about how sports betting is doing in India.
According to the report, the underground betting market was valued at around $130 billion in 2018. According to Adhikari, whoever doesn't realise that the underground betting markets exist has to be an ostrich as it has massively grown over the last years.
According to her, India is undoubtedly losing a lot from taxation, and punters are also at risk of losing money. This is because people betting underground can't be protected, and there is a lack of promotion for responsible gaming. Adhikari said that the legislation of sports betting could help with this.
Online gambling has become an industry with huge potential. It could create more jobs for Indians. Deloitte India reported that the online gaming sector of the country is estimated to be worth INR 20,500 crore. KPMG also released a report that valued the Indian betting market at around INR 9,50,000 crore.
A law firm, Touchstone Partners, is one of the groups already working on addressing and analysing the legal landscape of online gambling. They have recently teamed up with ENV Media for this. A partner from Touchstone, Uday Walia, said that they are hopeful that the Indian regulatory framework will be amended. This is to encourage additional participation because, as a country, we have much to gain from regulating activities, such as gambling and betting.