The Delhi High Court has served notice to the Indian central government on a lawsuit that could ban online casino and sports betting sites from operating in the country.
The litigation is essentially a request to the Ministry of Information Technology in India to exercise its power of the Information Technology Act 2000, which outlaws many activities in the country – although gambling is not specifically prohibited. However, many online activities are banned under the terms of the Act.
The motion from the Delhi HC also includes a bill to recover taxes from those who have banked winnings from online casinos, and also to take legal action against the owners or proprietors of online gambling sites offering their products to Indian players.
“It is submitted that all these activities, though expressly prohibited by law, are being carried out because of lack of enforcement of the laws in question,” the motion reads. “Thus, despite being per se illegal, these gambling websites are being permitted to operate and drive normal people towards economic and financial as well as social ruination.”
With the Indian capital specifically, the Delhi Public Gaming Act 1955 prohibits gambling on state soil, however this set of statutes has not been updated to reflect the digital age.
Is Online Gambling Illegal in India?
Ordinarily, you would expect absolute clarity and transparency when it came to a country’s laws on online gambling.
But in India, the picture is rather cloudier and despite there being rules prohibiting gambling, these are rarely enforced on an individual level, and it’s typically operators that enforcement goes after – when it bothers at all.
While it is technically illegal to gamble online in India, with fines as large as 90,000 rupees per day available to prosecutors, it is incredibly rare that any individual is arrested and charged for gambling. Games of chance are prohibited, however games of skill – like the popular Rummy – aren’t, even though many Indians play the card game for monetary stakes.
Online casino sites that originate in India tend to be outlawed very quickly after opening up, although the feeling is that offshore companies – based overseas – are welcome to offer their games and betting markets to Indians.
Indeed, many offshore sites are now specifically targeting Indian players, letting them deposit/withdraw in rupees and even offering bonuses and promotions tailored specifically to them.
Is online gambling illegal in India? Your guess is as good as ours!
India’s $130 Million Gambling Black Market
One of the factors that influences Indian gamblers is that they simply don’t know whether they should have a flutter or not – due to gambling being outlawed, even if not acted upon, in the country.
That has led to many individuals trying their luck at black market sites, and when you think that there’s approximately 560 million internet users in India you get a sense of the scale available to nefarious gambling syndicates.
According to KPMG, the gambling market in India was estimated to be worth a whopping $130 billion in 2018 alone, and those projections are unlikely to shrink any time soon.
But the question is why can’t online casinos legally offer some games that can considered skill? Horse racing betting is considered legal due to the perceived ‘skill’ in picking a winner, so don’t the same rules apply to online blackjack where the application of skill, i.e. knowing when to hit and when to stand, is key?