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The Legality of Online Gambling Sites in India

2020 is here – a new decade. However, your need to make money hasn’t changed. So why not try online gambling sites? But wait… Are they even legal?

Well, gambling in India is a grey area. Nonetheless, according to a report by Media Entertainment and Consulting Network, India is the largest and fastest-growing market for online gambling. By 2021, experts forecast that the real money gaming industry will grow to $1 billion.

With such statistics, it is hard to imagine online gambling is illegal.  Still, it is only fair you decide for your self which side of the law you are in when you gamble online.

What does Indian Law say about online Gambling?

There are laws regulating gambling at both the national and state level.

The national level has two acts that seem to “illegalize” gambling:

The Public Gambling Act of 1867

According to this act, it is illegal to operate or be found in a gaming house. A gaming house is any place playing dices, counters, and cards for money. The penalty is one month in jail.

This law is unclear about online gambling. Does the internet count as a place?

The act does not apply to all games. It does not apply to any game of mere skill. So does that mean rolling dice is illegal while betting on a game of cricket is legal?

Complicating matters, even more, is the fact that this act does not explicitly define gambling.

However, List II Entry 34 of the Indian constitution defines gambling as any activity whose result is influenced by chance or accident. Or, an activity where the participants consciously know there’s a risk of winning or losing and there’s no actual transfer of goods.

The Prize Competition Act of 1955

This act makes holding and participating in any form of prize competition illegal. The definition of prize competition seems to apply to all sorts of gaming including online gambling.

According to the law, a prize competition is any competition that awards prizes for a solution to a puzzle. Based on that definition, online casino games seem to be illegal since games like blackjack can be perceived as puzzles.

In a nutshell, the laws against gambling in India are vague, in both wording and enforcement. The reality is that Indians bet online every day. As an Indian, you have access to a wide range of online casinos, bookies, and live poker rooms.

Besides, there’s no law prohibiting international betting companies from operating in India. In fact, these companies can legally operate in India for as long as Indian Rupees are a payment option.

Types of online gambling that are entirely legal in India


Not all forms of gambling, online or otherwise, are illegal.


There’s no prohibition against lotteries in India. That does not make sense since lotteries are nothing more than games of chance. But, the Lotteries Act of 1998 legalizes lotteries including online lotteries.

Horse racing

One of the most popular sports in India is horse racing. That probably explains why betting on horse races is legal. Or, maybe this betting is legal since horse racing is more of a game of skill than chance.

Horse racing is legal at racecourses and off-course in betting parlors and online betting sites.

How to place online bets safely

The legal aspect of online gambling is vague. That said when placing bets, whether placing a wager on an online casino or placing a bet on a sports game, safety is a concern. Remember, the law will not protect you should you be swindled.

So, to safely place bets online ensure:

You understand the rules of the game

As much as betting is for fun, you do not want to foolishly lose your money. So, before you stake real money in an online casino game or slots, first understand the basic guidelines of the game. For instance, card games such as Texas Holdem and Blackjack have different rules. On this site, you will find an elaborate guide on how to play blackjack.

The site is licensed and registered

Online betting sites operate under strict gambling regulations. For a betting site to operate legally, it has to be licensed and registered. Legit gambling sites publicly display their licensing information. Also, you can check the credibility of a gambling site by checking its online reviews.

The site is secure

Hacking is a concern when using gambling sites as they require personal and financial information.

Site security ensures the protection of your financial information, especially during payouts. So, check that the site you intend to use uses a reputable encryption protocol such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Major banks and financial institutions use SSL to keep your money secure.

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