Indian Betting Laws

Laws on betting in India-

Betting in India has a long history, thriving through cultural changes and evolving regulations. Whether it’s wagering on cricket or poker, betting is embedded in Indian society. However, the legal complexities can make it challenging for bettors to know where their next wager stands.

We will guide you through India’s betting laws, covering authorities, legislation, online betting, and reforms. Whether you’re a casual bettor or looking to level up your knowledge, we’ll help you understand the legal landscape while highlighting changes that could reshape the future of betting in India.

Relevant Authorities and Legislation

Betting in India is a legal maze with multiple authorities overseeing it at the central and state levels. Understanding who’s in charge and the key legislation is crucial for any bettor who wants to navigate the landscape confidently.

Primary Authorities Regulating Betting

The Indian Constitution places gambling under the “State List,” giving individual states the power to regulate it within their jurisdiction. Therefore, the central government sets the broad framework, but the state governments determine the specifics. In practice, this means state authorities regulate betting laws, licensing, and enforcement, leading to differing regulations across the country.

Key Legislation: The Public Gambling Act, 1867

The Public Gambling Act of 1867 remains the core national legislation for gambling in India. This outdated but still-enforced law was designed to prohibit the operation of public gambling houses. It criminalizes both the operation of these establishments and betting.

However, the Act doesn’t address online betting and is silent on games of skill, creating grey areas in its application. This act is the fallback guideline in states without specific regulations.

Specific State-Level Regulations and Their Impact

State regulations vary widely, making the betting experience unique depending on your location:

Goa and Sikkim: These states have embraced gambling as a source of revenue, with Goa’s casino cruises and Sikkim’s licensed online gambling platforms drawing bettors from across the nation.

Maharashtra: This state enforces strict anti-gambling laws, prohibiting most forms of betting under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act of 1887.

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka: Both have banned online gambling and betting recently, although court challenges are ongoing.

Nagaland: This state has taken a progressive approach, specifically licensing online games of skill, setting a precedent for how other states might regulate similar platforms.

Types of Gambling and Their Legality

India’s betting landscape is an intriguing mix of legal and illegal practices. Understanding where your favourite games and bets stand legally is crucial for a smooth and safe betting experience.

Legal and Illegal Betting Types in India

India differentiates between various forms of gambling, deeming some legal while strictly banning others. The legality of a particular type often hinges on state laws, resulting in variations from one jurisdiction to the next. While physical casinos operate in select states, many other gambling forms are either in legal grey zones or outright prohibited.

Gambling in Casinos: Where It’s Allowed and Regulated

If you’re a casino enthusiast, Goa and Sikkim are your havens. Goa’s offshore casino cruises and Sikkim’s land-based casinos offer licensed gambling options where you can legally play a wide range of games. Daman also permits casino gaming to some extent. However, these are exceptions rather than the rule, as most other states ban casinos, citing social concerns.

Sports and Horse Race Betting

Horse race betting enjoys a legal status across India and is recognized as a game of skill by the Supreme Court. This has allowed racecourses in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata to host regular betting events.

On the other hand, sports betting remains largely illegal, except for select platforms operating in Sikkim and under specific conditions. This hasn’t stopped a flourishing underground market, particularly for cricket betting, which is prevalent and highly lucrative.

Cricket Betting and Its Special Place in Indian Society

Cricket is akin to a religion in India, making cricket betting a highly popular, albeit risky, pursuit. Despite its illegal status, it thrives through bookies and online platforms. Attempts to legalize cricket betting aim to bring transparency and curb corruption, but significant regulatory challenges remain.

Poker, Bingo, and Lotteries: Legal Status and Restrictions

Poker and bingo are grey areas. While courts increasingly recognize poker as a game of skill, it’s not uniformly accepted across all states. Nagaland’s licensing regime for online poker is a promising development, offering regulated platforms a way to operate legally.

State lotteries are one of the few universally permitted gambling forms, though banned in some states like Gujarat. They are generally run by state governments and offer lucrative jackpots that attract millions of participants nationwide.

Games of Skill vs. Games of Chance

A crucial distinction shapes India’s betting laws: the difference between games of skill and games of chance. This classification often determines whether a game is deemed legal or prohibited, so understanding where your favourite activity falls is essential.

Skill-Based and Chance-Based Games

Games of skill rely primarily on a player’s knowledge, expertise, and decision-making to win, whereas games of chance hinge on randomness or luck. A classic example of a game of skill is rummy, where strategies and memory play a significant role in deciding the outcome. On the other hand, roulette and most casino slots are considered games of chance, as winning depends entirely on luck.

However, not all games fit neatly into one category. Poker, for instance, involves strategic thinking, but luck still plays a role. This ambiguity leads to differing legal interpretations across states.

Legal Implications of This Classification

India’s laws generally favour skill-based games. The Supreme Court has ruled that playing games of skill for money is not gambling and, thus, legally permissible. This is why horse race betting, rummy, and, in some states, poker are often considered legal.

Games of chance, however, fall under strict regulations or outright bans. This means traditional casino games like roulette, craps, and slot machines are prohibited outside designated legal zones like Goa and Sikkim.

But this distinction is more than just theoretical—it directly affects online betting platforms and how states regulate them. Platforms emphasising skill-based games have a better chance of securing a legal foothold. For example, Nagaland has issued licenses for online games of skill, providing an official framework for operators to work.

Yet, the classification remains contentious, with frequent legal challenges and shifting definitions. As the lines between skill and chance blur in the digital era, bettors must stay updated on evolving regulations to enjoy their games responsibly and legally.

Online/Mobile/Digital/Electronic Media

The rise of online betting has opened a whole new world for bettors, offering convenience, variety, and global reach right from their smartphones. However, navigating this digital domain can be tricky, given the varied legal landscape across states and the ambiguous status of online gambling in national legislation.

Current Regulations Around Online Betting

India lacks a clear, unified framework for regulating online gambling. The Public Gambling Act of 1867, which is the central legislation, predates the internet and thus does not directly address the digital realm. This has left a legal vacuum that states have tried to fill individually.

State-Specific Rules

Some states like Sikkim and Nagaland have created licensing frameworks for online betting. Sikkim allows online betting within state boundaries through government-approved platforms. Nagaland has introduced an innovative licensing regime specifically for games of skill. However, most other states lack formal regulations, leaving online betting in a legal grey area.

Federal Cyber Laws

The Information Technology Act of 2000 penalizes transmitting gambling information online. However, enforcement is inconsistent, and these provisions rarely apply directly to bettors.

Legal Ambiguities and Enforcement Challenges

Since many states don’t explicitly regulate online betting, bettors often rely on offshore platforms, which usually accept Indian players. The enforcement of bans on online betting can be inconsistent, but bettors should be cautious:

State Prohibitions

Some states, like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have explicitly banned online betting, even if offered by offshore platforms. Bettors in these regions should be particularly aware of these local restrictions.

Payment Gateways

The Reserve Bank of India requires banks to block transactions to international gambling websites, which means credit card deposits to these sites might fail.

Navigating the Digital Betting Landscape

For those eager to bet online, staying informed is key. Here are a few tips to help navigate the digital betting scene safely:

Research Platform Legality– Ensure the platform is licensed, ideally within India or a reputable international jurisdiction.

Stay Updated on State Laws– Keep abreast of changes in your state’s laws, especially as many states are tightening regulations.

Use E-Wallets or Cryptocurrencies– If your bank blocks direct payments to betting platforms, consider e-wallets or cryptocurrencies as alternatives.

Seek Licensed Skill-Based Games– Focus on platforms offering legally recognized games of skill, like poker or rummy, to stay within a safer legal zone.

Betting sites accessible to Indian bettors

International Betting Platforms Accessible to Indian Bettors

Several international betting platforms in India are popular among bettors due to their comprehensive sports markets, user-friendly interfaces, and secure payment systems. Here’s a closer look at some of the top ones:


As one of the largest global sports betting platforms, Bet365 is a favourite among Indian bettors. It offers extensive cricket markets, competitive odds, and live streaming of events. Users can deposit in Indian Rupees and access a variety of payment methods, such as UPI and e-wallets.


Offering sports betting markets and casino games, Betfred is accessible to Indian players. Its focus on international sports, including cricket, makes it appealing, although it currently doesn’t have INR as an option. Bettors can use other currencies for deposits and withdrawals.


Part of the well-known 888 Holdings, 888sport offers comprehensive betting markets and casino games. While it doesn’t directly support INR, Indian players can still access its offerings via other accepted currencies.

William Hill

William Hill, a reputable bookmaker, is available to Indian bettors despite lacking direct INR support. It provides diverse sports markets, particularly focusing on cricket and other globally popular sports.


This Irish bookmaker offers a range of sports betting markets. Although it doesn’t offer INR directly, players can access its betting services using alternative payment methods.

Enforcement and Liability

Despite the legal complexities around betting, Indian authorities actively enforce gambling regulations. Enforcement usually targets illegal betting operations, such as underground casinos or unauthorized online platforms, rather than individual bettors. However, here’s what you should be aware of:

Operators- Unlicensed operators face hefty fines and potential imprisonment. They are often targeted in high-profile raids, particularly during major sports events like the IPL.

Bettors- While enforcement largely focuses on operators, bettors can also face penalties if caught participating in illegal betting activities, particularly in states with strict anti-gambling laws like Maharashtra or Karnataka.

Online Betting- Since online betting operates in a legal grey area, authorities have limited means to prosecute individuals betting through offshore platforms. However, they can enforce payment restrictions through banks.

Tax Levies for Gambling and Betting in India

Betting winnings come with tax obligations that bettors need to understand.

Income Tax- Any winnings over ₹10,000 from lotteries, crossword puzzles, card games, or other betting forms are taxed at 30% under Section 115BB of the Income Tax Act. This tax applies regardless of the bettor’s tax bracket and cannot be offset by losses.

Equalisation Levy- An equalisation levy of 2% is imposed on revenue earned by foreign digital platforms operating in India, potentially affecting offshore betting operators.

GST (Goods and Services Tax): Operators charge GST on the face value or betting commission. The standard rate for betting and gambling services is 28%.

Anticipated Reforms

The Indian betting landscape is on the brink of change as lawmakers and stakeholders recognize the need to update regulations. Here are some key anticipated reforms:

Unified National Framework: There is growing advocacy for a cohesive national framework to clarify gambling regulations. This would help eliminate the confusing patchwork of state laws.

Regulation of Online Betting: Lawmakers are pushing for specific regulations as online betting gains popularity. This could include licensing platforms, implementing player protection measures, and standardizing taxes.

Skill-Based Game Recognition: There’s an ongoing debate about redefining skill-based games to provide clearer guidelines for games like poker and rummy, potentially offering them greater legal protection.

Legalizing Sports Betting: Several policymakers have proposed regulating sports betting to increase transparency and curb match-fixing and corruption. This would involve stringent monitoring and licensed operators.

Taxation Updates: Reforms could address ambiguous taxation rules, reducing compliance burdens while ensuring consistent government revenue from betting activities.

Our Final Thoughts on Betting in India

Understanding the betting laws in India can feel like a tightrope walk, but bettors can still enjoy the thrill of placing their bets with a clear grasp of the regulations and a focus on responsible gaming.

Make sure to research the legal landscape, stick to licensed platforms, and stay informed on state-specific laws and anticipated changes. Betting responsibly and within the bounds of the law will let you revel in the excitement while keeping risks at bay.