Betting sites certainly cannot be described as houses, rooms, tents or enclosures, but it’s possible that a betting site could be considered a “vessel” or “any place whatsoever.” To date, nobody has tested a court’s interpretation of this wording. We simply do not have the case law to determine if this definition could ever be used to describe an Indian betting site.
The fact that the definition has never been tested as it applies to online betting is a good thing for Indian gamblers. It indicates that authorities have little interest in pursuing individual gamblers. Online gambling has been available for roughly two decades now and we have yet to see a regular online gambler prosecuted under the Public Gaming Act. Sikkim first opened the doors to online gambling with the passage of the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 and then followed that up with the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009 to make the act operational. These laws paved the way for online gambling by giving operators the ability to apply for licenses and offer games of chance and sports betting for real money over the internet. You may find it difficult to deposit with certain credit or debit cards, but most of the world’s major e-wallet services work just fine in India. The government could always crack down on payment processing in the future, but no moves to do so have been noted to date. Although nothing is set in stone at this early stage, the government appears quite friendly to the idea of legal online betting in India. Some in the government have also stated a desire to seek the assistance of regulators in the United Kingdom. This is especially promising because the UK is arguably the world’s best regulator and the world’s freest online gambling market. Home > Countries > India The publication of the rules does give the central government the authority to order internet service providers to block access to websites that discuss gambling. So far, it appears the government has taken little-to-no action in using the power of the act to prevent online gambling.
Additionally, the Nagaland bill seeks to allow locally-licensed operators to accept customers from all across India. This approach is similar to what Sikkim attempted to do when it passed its own online gambling legislation. Lawmakers in Sikkim later had to amend the bill in a way that resulted in keeping all online gaming activities restricted to state residents. Presumably, opponents could challenge the Nagaland bill on the same grounds that resulted in the Sikkim bill being amended. There is considerable controversy as to whether any of the country’s laws can even be applied to online gaming. Outside of Nagaland and Sikkim (which will discuss in further detail below), there is no legal mechanism by which someone actually living in India could start a betting site and begin accepting wagers. On the other hand, betting sites located in other countries operate under a completely different set of laws that allow them to accept wagers from people anywhere in the world, including India. Indians can deposit and play at most of the world’s big names in online gambling, but are generally best served at bookmakers that operate from the United Kingdom. The UK is home to numerous international gaming sites that are more than happy to accept customers from India.
I’ll start with a quick summary of how Indian betting sites operate today and then follow that up with more detail below. The basic of it is this: various laws may or may not apply to online betting depending on how you interpret them and in which state you live. However, it is fairly clear that there are no laws that target individuals who place bets online. Millions of people gamble online in India every year and we have yet to see a case in which someone has been prosecuted for doing so. Additionally, UK-headquartered betting sites tend to have a better understanding of the Indian market. They offer odds on cricket betting every day of the week, stream cricket matches online in real time and offer wagers on every other major sport in the world. These same bookmakers also come equipped with fully functional casinos, poker rooms and bingo games. Gaming laws are mostly relegated to the state level in India, but the central government does have some power to impact the industry. The most significant federal law on gambling is the Public Gaming Act of 1867. Considering the law was written 150 years ago, it should be no surprise that it makes no mention of the internet. Anyone desiring the freedom to gamble online should be happy to see the efforts of many Indian states such as Sikkim and Goa. The head of the International Cricket Counsel recently came out in favour of online gaming and believes a regulated market would help keep money away from underground bookies that fund terrorism and drugs with the profits. Later, the state government passed the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulations) Amendment Bill 2015. This bill authorized operators to offer real money sports betting, poker and casino games in betting shops across Sikkim by way of “intranet gaming terminals.” Two established gaming operators in the state quickly got to work and opened roughly 50 betting shops in different locations.