This is one of the most nuanced topics when it comes to India. The legality of gambling. It’s surprising to many people that gambling is actually technically illegal in the country, especially with the amount of gambling that takes place. So, what exactly is legal and illegal, and is it likely that things will change in the future?
We’ve taken a look at all of the most important aspects of gambling law within India, so that you can be fully equipped when it comes to playing at your favourite online casinos.
What’s allowed in India?
Gambling is actually allowed at a number of different brick and mortar casinos. The reason that this isn’t prohibited is because they are attached to high quality hotels. This means that the gambling is a leisure activity that’s part of the hotel, rather than an out and out gambling den. This loophole means that areas with a lot of high class hotels can actually have lots of different casino venues available.
It’s also legal to run a lottery within India. This means that there are a lot of different lotteries up and running. However, it does create a little bit of confusion. The national government says that the lottery can only be operated once a week. But local governments feel that this comes under their own jurisdiction and as such can operate as many lotteries as they like.
Neither branch of government makes too much of a deal about it, and so there are a lot of different lottery draws at regular times. Many players want to be able to enjoy casino games in the comfort of their own home though and this is where a lot of the confusion stems from.
What can and can’t be done?
Well, technically online casinos can’t be hosted within India. This means that there are no online casino regulations in place for Indian players. It also means that the national government hasn’t technically made it illegal. This might sound very confusing, and that’s because it is.
Basically, there can’t be any online casinos that are hosted within India. So, there are no Indian online casinos. But, online casinos that are hosted outside of India are still allowed to function. This is because the Indian jurisdiction has no power over them, so they can do whatever they want. It brings up something of a grey area for the law at this point.
The first aspect that it brings up is that technically Indian players can’t play at online casinos because they’re not legal in the country. But, because online casinos that are outside of India don’t have to abide by the Indian laws, it means that Indian players can access them.
This also follows up that because the online casinos aren’t hosted in India, any Indian player that uses them won’t be prosecuted. This is because the casinos aren’t located inside India, so technically no crime was committed.
The overall complicated nature of this is quite confusing for some players, but it does mean that generally speaking most players know they are able to engage with the sites if they wish. It does mean that the level of tax revenue India brings in is below what it could be. Because the sites aren’t located within the country they are not liable for any tax costs, so India as a country is technically losing out from online gambling.
It doesn’t mean that questions aren’t asked on a regular basis though. Many players and politicians want more clarity to be brought in when it comes to online gambling.
Will things change in the future?
As already mentioned there are a lot of calls for there to be more clarity around online gambling within India. However, if things do change then it might not be in the way that players want them to. This is because many politicians within the country want online gambling to be banned in a more equivocal manner. For online gambling fans this would obviously be bad news. An outright ban would criminalise the use of online casinos, even ones that aren’t located on Indian soil. It would instantly mean that millions of players across the country could be fined or even sent to prison if they were caught using the offshore online casinos.
This doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to be banned in the future though. It just means that currently the major politicians aren’t in favour of the idea. What could change this is the introduction of taxation of online gambling earnings for companies. It would mean that a lot more tax revenue would start coming into the country. With this revenue it could bring a lot of benefits to India, this would therefore make politicians more likely to pass through any legislation legalizing online gambling.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen with the future of online gambling in India. But, players should rest easy in the knowledge that currently it sits within the legal loophole. As long as the online casino you choose to play at resides outside of India then players are able to play without any worries about breaking any laws. This means that for the moment, online casinos manage to escape being illegal.