The rules regarding online betting in India are complex because technically each state can decide if gambling is legal or illegal.
Online betting is a gray area for Indians but many still use online betting sites based overseas and to this date no resident has ever been punished or prosecuted for doing so. All laws and legislation are listed below along with betting sites and bookmakers you can use.
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Gambling laws vary from state to state.
Three states; Goa, Daman and Sikkim have legalised gambling
Online gambling technically illegal but thousands participate anyway.
No player ever prosecuted for online gambling.
Horse racing betting & Rummy legal as deemed games of skill.
Gambling Legislation & Laws
As should have already become obvious, the situation surrounding gambling in India is very complicated. In order to try to clarify things a little, the following timeline traces the major pieces of legislation passed to create the situation as it stands today:
1867 – Public Gambling Act
Almost unbelievably the most important piece of legislation when it comes to gambling in India is an act passed nearly 150 years ago. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 determines that operating or assisting in the operation of a gambling house is illegal and is punishable by a fine of 200 rupees or imprisonment of up to three months. It also sets out that visiting and utilising gambling houses is illegal and can be punished with a 100 rupee fine or imprisonment for up to one month. Importantly, however, that act also states that ‘nothing in this Act shall apply to games of mere skill wherever played’.
1949 – India’s Constitution
When India became independent, the nation drafted its own constitution and this document also included something pertinent to the gambling industry. That was that state governments and authorities had the right and ability to legalise gambling within their borders if they wished to do so.
1957 and 1968 – ‘Games of Skill’
As we mentioned earlier, the 1867 Public Gambling Act exempted ‘games of skill’ from its statutes but didn’t actually define what these were. In 1957, however, there was an official ruling that horse racing betting was a ‘game of skill’ and therefore was legal. This was then followed 11 years later by a similar ruling regarding the card game of Rummy.
1992-2005 – State Sponsored Legislation
Gradually between 1992 and 2005, three of India’s 27 states passed legislation essentially legalising gambling. The states were Goa, Daman and Sikkim, and their various different items of legislation led to the construction and operation of a number of casinos within their borders.
1998 – The Central Lotteries (Regulation) Act
Passed in 1998, the Central Lotteries (Regulation) Act gave all Indian states the right to hold their own lottery but limited the number of draws to one per week.
2000 – The Information Technology Act
Quite a generalised and wide-ranging piece of legislation related to a whole host of cyber activities, the 2000 Information Technology Act has also been specifically applied to online gambling. The act prohibits the transmission of information which can corrupt the public, and this has been taken to apply to the advertisement and provision of online gambling.
2007 – Payment and Settlement Act
One of a couple of measures taken by the Indian government in order to try to limit the use of overseas gambling sites by Indian citizens, the Payment and Settlement Act was passed in 2007. This act allows the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to implement policies as it sees fit to do almost anything it wishes in the area of payment processing. This, therefore, gives them the ability to investigate and to block payments or deposits to gambling sites.
2008 – Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Act
In 2008, Sikkim became the first Indian state to pass legislation to legalise online gambling. In spite of this, however, little real progress has been made in terms of actually granted licences and getting the industry growing even a full eight years later.
2011 – Information Technology Rules
In 2011, rules and guidelines were published which instructed internet service providers and website hosts to block certain sites. One such type was described as anything ‘relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling’ and so has been applied to overseas online gambling sites.
Are Players Taxed On Winnings?
Mostly, the majority of forms of gambling are illegal in India and as such where this is the case there is no mechanism by which taxes are collected on winnings.
Where gambling is legal – in certain states and for certain types of games or betting – taxes are still not levied upon punters but upon the providers instead. Overall, then, the situation vis a vis gambling taxation in India is a positive one for punters.
Recommended Deposit Methods
As we have described above, there are no fully legal and regulated online gambling sites based in India. Despite also being technically illegal, however, overseas based providers do routinely cater for Indian citizens. Where those providers do serve Indian punters, the deposit methods readily available to them can be quite limited.
This is because of the 2007 Payment and Settlement Act and the 2011 Information Technology Rules as described above, which allow authorities to limit payment processing options and to block gambling site URLs.
With that in mind, Indian punters generally have to use e-wallet services (Neteller, Skrill or Entropay) to deposit with sites in order to keep the ultimate destination of their money largely hidden from their bank. However you can try your credit or debit card as acceptance rates are high.