The online gaming industry of India has witnessed huge growth in the last few years. But is it legal to gamble online in the country? IANS takes a look at how the regulated gaming market has developed in the country.
For the record, there are only three states in India- Goa, Daman and Sikkim, where iGaming is regulated. However, with gambling in only three states legal, the rest of the country is still able to play their favorite casino games and bet on sports such as cricket. The credit for this goes to the Internet.
For the readers to ponder over, gaming is primarily regulated in India based on the Public Gaming Act of 1867. But, this is only an act to provide punishment for public gambling and operation of gaming houses common in most parts of the country.
Top Online Cricket-Betting Site in India- 10CRIC is one of the Popular Gaming Sites That Locals Frequent
Hence, it is about not allowing any local operation of gambling activities in India and since this law was passed in 1867, there is no mention of online gambling activities in it. Now, this makes online gambling neither legal nor illegal.
As of today, it is the only law that regulates gaming activities in India. Even the Information Technology Act of 2000 makes no mention of online gaming activities. Hence, it makes Indians free to place their bets online.
Even though there are legal casinos operating in some parts of India, not everyone is willing to visit these casinos all the time to play their favorite games.
Online gaming is the most convenient way for people to gamble, so with the growing online population of India, online gaming has also become more prominent.
With the rise of online gaming in India comes risks and some states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been trying to help over the past year.
Recently, Tamil Nadu has already announced that online games are now banned in the state. Then other online games will be regulated.
The complete ban on Tamil Nadu includes games like rummy and poker. With this change, banks, other financial institutions and payment gateways will not be allowed to engage in gambling related transactions.
Based on this law, any person violating the new rules will be punished with imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of five lakh rupees. The same rule holds for anyone advertising online gaming activities.
Meanwhile, online gaming service providers offering their services in the state can be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
On October 1, the state cabinet approved the draft of this ordinance and it was sent to the Raj Bhavan. The effectiveness of this law will be announced in the coming days.
Some groups want the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider the decision. Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation spoke about this.
“The ban could have an adverse effect on the state and would push more and more people to illegal offshore websites,” Landers said.
“This is disappointing as it defies six decades of established legal jurisprudence and the recent judgment of the Madras High Court which struck down a similar law.”
Karnataka’s Attempt to Ban Online Gaming
Tamil Nadu is not the first Indian state to ban online gaming.
Karnataka also banned online games in October last year after Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot approved changes to the Police Act 1963.
However, earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the amendments. According to the Bench, the change was held to be unconstitutional and too much.
“In the considered view of this Court, the legislative action imposing a complete ban on all games of skill violates the principle of proportionality and is excessive in nature and therefore violates Article 14 of the Constitution on grounds of arbitrariness.”
The Court further observed, “The Amendment Act suffers from such infirmity since section 2(7) which covers all sports regardless of the skill involved, makes the charging provisions of the principal Act so ambiguous.
That a person of normal intelligence would not be in a position to infer its true meaning and its application varies in scope and is therefore liable to be quashed.”
What happened to Karnataka, it is now a question for many whether Tamil Nadu will go through the same way.
For now, the locals will have to see whether the High Court will interfere with the Tamil Nadu government’s decision.