Are Online Casino Games Legal in India?

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India-Online-Gambling

India features some of the world’s murkiest online gambling laws. The federal government largely dislikes mobile gaming.

However, certain states do allow legal online gambling. Meanwhile, others tolerate it and haven’t banned the activity.

With all of the conflicting laws, you may be completely clueless on if it’s safe to play online casino games in India. The following guide covers this country’s gambling laws in detail and offers a recommendation on if India online casinos are ultimately legal.

What Are the Current Laws in India Surrounding Online Casinos?

This country refers to the antiquated Public Gambling Act of 1867 for its federal view on gambling. This ancient code of laws went into effect when Britain was in control of India. Nevertheless, it still stands today as the nation’s primary set of gambling rules.

This act deems that both operating and being inside a gambling hall are illegal. It only makes exceptions for “any game of mere skill.”

Of course, the Public Gambling Act doesn’t do a very good job of defining skill-based games. This lack of clarity has led to several high-profile cases regarding the matter.

In Dr. R. K. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, the nation’s Supreme Court ruled that the level of skill involved will define if a game counts as legal or should be prohibited. The justices determined that horse racing is mostly skill-based, thus, deeming horse racing betting to be legal.

India had a hard time explaining how state governments were able to offer lotteries. After all, lotteries contain little to no skill at all.

With that said, the country passed the Lotteries Regulation Act of 1998 to clear this matter up. The Lottery Regulations Act grants states the right to offer lottery drawings.

As for online casinos, the Public Gambling Act is so old that it obviously doesn’t cover the subject. Given India’s prohibitive nature, you could assume that any type of non-regulated or non-skilled gambling is illegal. But again, the Public Gambling Act doesn’t address the subject.

This leaves the door open for citizens to gamble at many online casinos if they choose to. But remember that just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean that it’s 100% legal. Keep reading to learn more.

The Federal Government Can Block Foreign Gambling Sites

While no laws specifically stating that online casino games are illegal, the national government does reserve the right to block offshore gambling sites.

The Information Technology Act of 2000 gives the federal government broad powers over any type of internet activity. If officials deem certain websites as a threat, they can order internet service providers to block them.

At no point does the Information Technology Act allude to mobile casinos or any other type of online gambling. Under the powers of this law, though, the government could very well bar online casino domains.

While the Information Technology Act seems like only a problem for casino operators, it could potentially affect you. If you deposit money on an offshore gaming site and it gets blocked, then it’s unclear if you’ll have any chance of getting the funds back.

Certain States Allow Legal Online Casino Games

India’s mobile gambling laws only become murkier when looking at different states’ approaches. Sikkim and Nagaland, for example, both feature legal and licensed online gambling markets.

Nagaland’s laws only allow for skill-based mobile gambling, such as Texas Hold’em and gin rummy. Sikkim, on the other hand, allows online casinos and other games of chance.

Three states have completely outlawed internet gambling, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana. However, none of these places have yet to arrest anybody for placing illegal online bets.

India is like the US in many ways when it comes to online gambling. It lets states decide how to govern the matter. It only applies federal laws—or the lack thereof—to states that haven’t put any legislation in place.

Will You Get Arrested for Playing Mobile Casino Games in India?

I can’t offer any legal guarantees on what will happen if you gamble online in India. Generally, though, you stand little to no risk of getting arrested.

I can’t find a single instance of anybody being busted just for placing online bets—not even in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana. The only mobile gambling cases involve those who run illegal online operations in the country.

Of course, this isn’t to say that a precedent couldn’t someday be set. As of now, though, no signs point to federal or state authorities suddenly taking an active interest in illegal gamblers.

Millions of people in India gamble online every day without incident. Police likely don’t feel like putting time and valuable resources towards finding out who these people are.

Even if the authorities suddenly began cracking down, prosecutors would have trouble putting a case together. After all, the federal laws don’t specifically state that internet gambling is illegal.

Again, no guarantees exist when you place mobile wagers in India. However, you face very little prospect of getting arrested just for online gambling.

How Can You Stay Legal When Gambling Online in This Country?

The only way to ensure that you’re placing 100% legal online casinos is to visit Sikkim. This state has fully legalized mobile gaming and even offers licensed online casinos.

Assuming you can’t make it to Sikkim, your next best bet is to choose a state that takes no stand on the matter. India has 28 states, so finding one to gamble in shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’re worried about legal consequences, then you definitely want to avoid Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana. These are the only states that have prohibited mobile gambling to date.

Do Your Research When Choosing India Online Casinos

Much of India’s online gambling action revolves around offshore casinos. These unlicensed gambling sites don’t have to adhere to Indian laws and could rip you off without repercussions.

With that considered, you’ll definitely want to research any India-facing online casino before signing up and depositing. Here are some tips for doing so.

Read Casino Reviews

You don’t need to visit dozens of casinos and rate them yourself. Instead, you can rely on affiliates who’ve already done this work for you.

Affiliate sites offer lists of top India mobile casinos. You can go down the list and read reviews until finding a suitable gaming site.

From here, you should give any prospective site a visit and look it over. Assuming you like the navigation, promotions, game selection, and overall layout, then you might consider registering and depositing.

Look for Red Flags

Red flags are the biggest things that you want to watch for when combing through reviews. These include slow payouts, bad customer service, and faulty games.

Slow payments indicate that an online casino may be struggling financially. They could be holding onto players’ money to cover their bills.

Bad customer support alludes to an unprofessional operation. The same sites are more likely to rip you off in other ways.

Faulty games run the obvious risk of cheating you out of money. You should never play at a gaming site that’s knowingly been caught running buggy games.

Stay Away From Casinos With a History of Problems

Some mobile casinos just can’t seem to get it right. They always take weeks to pay gamblers and/or receive poor marks on their customer service.

It’s not your responsibility to wait around for these online casinos to get their acts together. Instead, you should just avoid them altogether. After all, more than enough gaming sites exist to where you don’t have to settle on the questionable ones.

Conclusion

Overall, India isn’t a very receptive country when it comes to gambling. It bans many forms of unregulated land-based gambling, such as casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks.

Nevertheless, the federal government seems to treat online casinos as a non-issue. Nobody has been arrested for gambling at a mobile casino to date. With 1.37 billion residents, this is quite telling.

Outside of Sikkim, gambling sites aren’t technically legal. On the other hand, they aren’t undecidedly outlawed either. Therefore, you should be safe to play at online casinos in this country.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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