Gambling in India is age old and as a general rule it is prohibited in India. The Constitution of India has demarcated the legislation making powers between the centre and states. The power to make rules and laws regarding gaming and gambling has been conferred upon the states. As a result different states have passed different laws upon gaming and gambling in their respective states. Some states have absolutely prohibited gambling in their jurisdiction whereas some have allowed the same to be done within their jurisdictions.
While gaming and gambling entrepreneurs are still struggling to understand and apply the laws of gaming and gambling of various states, information and communication technology (ICT) has added another complicated dimension to this entire scenario. Now gaming and gambling is being conducted in an online environment with the help of software, hardware and other ICT systems. As a result Indian government is finding it very difficult to deal with online gambling in India.
There are no specific and dedicated online gaming and gambling laws in India. This has not deterred various individuals and companies from exploring the online gaming industry of India. This has also resulted in increased numbers of arrests and prosecutions of various individuals and companies in India. For instance, recently the owner of an online betting website for IPL 7 was arrested in Mumbai for allowing betting on his website. Similar arrests have been made by police of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, etc. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also established a Sports Integrity Unit to investigate illegal sports betting in India.
Meanwhile some stakeholders and entrepreneurs approached the Supreme Court of India to get clarity on the legality of online games like rummy, poker, etc. Supreme Court asked the opinion of Central Government in this regard but the same has been informally denied by the Central Government. This means that till the time Supreme Court actually says that online rummy, online poker and online card games are legal in India, majority of these gaming stakeholders may be exposing themselves to legal risks and civil and criminal liabilities.
There is also a very thin line between skills oriented gaming and gambling. We at Perry4Law believe that this is a “subjective test” that is based upon the perceptions of individual or company analysing the same. For one an online game may be skills based game hence allowed whereas for another it may be an act of gambling hence punishable. Perry4Law strongly recommends that till the time Indian Supreme Court or Central Government clarifies the legal position regarding online gambling in India, the online gaming/gambling stakeholders must comply with existing and applicable techno legal requirements of Indian laws.