Is It Legal To Start An Online Poker Website In India?

Is It Legal To Start An Online Poker Website In IndiaGaming and gambling laws in India are antiquated and colonial in nature. Indian parliament did not find it necessary to enact contemporary gaming and gambling laws in India. This has created a chaos, fear and uncertainty among not only the players but also the entrepreneurs who wish to explore these fields. Nevertheless Indian parliament is still not moved due to its practices and mindset that is costing us contemporary and necessary laws.

As mobile, computers and websites started growing, traditional gaming and gambling industry is also trying to adjust their business model accordingly. But the online gambling and gaming laws in India are still in a state of limbo. We neither have an online gambling law in India nor have we dedicated online gaming laws in India.

This situation has further being made complicated due to the law making arrangement between the States and Centre as prescribed by Indian Constitution. It is for the States to make regulations and laws regarding gambling. However, information technology related issues fall with the legislative competence of Centre. So while traditional gambling can be regulated by various States across the India, online gambling is a totally different ball game.

While gaming and gambling entrepreneurs are very cautions when it comes to online gambling yet they are feeling more comfortable with online gaming websites. For instance, many gaming entrepreneurs are exploring online gaming fields like Poker, Rummy, etc in India. The crucial question is whether online poker is legal in India or not?

We believe that any online poker website of India that wishes to engage in legal business must comply with Indian laws like Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Indian Information Technology Act, 2000, the Public Gambling Act, 1867, Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999, etc. Taxation, money laundering and payment gateways issues must also be taken care of by those proposing to open online poker websites in India. Further, various guidelines and rules issued from time to time must also be complied with by online poker websites of India.

Online poker website owners are Internet intermediary within the meaning of Information Technology Act, 2000 and they are also required to comply with cyber law due diligence requirements (PDF). Further, techno legal issues pertaining to privacy, data protection (PDF), taxation, data security, etc must also be complied with online poker websites in India.

The crux of the legal position seems to be that if an online poker website is following the laws of India while operating in India, it is legal to play online poker in India. However, if the laws of India are breached during such online presence both the cyber law of India and other applicable state laws may be attracted.

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