The Legality of Online Gambling in India: Current Regulations and What Lies Ahead

Published on: Nov 08, 2023

The landscape of online gambling in India is characterised by ambiguity. The primary regulatory framework, the Public Gaming Act of 1867, predates the Internet era and fails to address online gambling explicitly. The Information Technology Act of 2000, responsible for regulating online activities, also lacks provisions. Consequently, Indians, except for those residing in Sikkim, Nagaland and Meghalaya, can freely engage in online betting activities on offshore platforms.

State-specific Regulations

Sikkim and Meghalaya have introduced gaming laws and licensing regimes, permitting online casino gaming and sports betting such as betting on the national sport, cricket. However, these licenses exclude residents of these states. Nagaland, on the other hand, regulates online games categorised as mere skill, demonstrating a diverse approach to online gambling within the country. You can see Casino App on this page regarding legalised mobile gambling.

In 2020, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh took a stringent stance by imposing a blanket ban on all online gambling and real money gaming activities. Meanwhile, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu followed suit in 2021, attempting a comprehensive prohibition. However, these bans faced constitutional challenges, with the High Courts of both states striking them down as unconstitutional.

Challenges and Constitutional Implications

The legal landscape surrounding online gambling, specifically in the context of cricket, presents unique challenges as different states grapple with the decision of gambling legality. The Karnataka High Court emphasised the need for appropriate legislation within the constitutional framework, underscoring the importance of balancing individual freedoms with regulatory measures, especially concerning cricket-related gambling activities.

The legal tussles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala mirrored this sentiment, prompting a need for states to craft legislation tailored to the nuances of cricket gambling. While bans were struck down, states are encouraged to devise regulations that specifically target and prevent problematic gambling behaviours related to cricket.

What Lies Ahead: Draft Legislation and Regulatory Measures

Recent developments suggest that India is on the cusp of defining its stance on online gambling. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has unveiled a draft legislation aimed at addressing rising concerns, particularly regarding minors engaging in online cricket gambling. These measures include mandatory customer complaint procedures, the appointment of a chief compliance officer and stringent player verification processes, all tailored to the specific challenges posed by cricket betting.

The draft emphasises content scrutiny, disallowing any material that compromises India's sovereignty and integrity. Aspects such as violence, addiction and sexual content fall under this scrutiny. Online gaming operators are expected to register with the IT ministry, subject to the regulator's oversight. As this draft undergoes public review, it opens the floor for revisions, fostering a collaborative approach to shaping India's online gambling regulations.