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Guide: Real Money Gaming and Online Gambling in India

India has perhaps the most unique legal jurisprudence when it comes to gambling in the world. Not only do our laws bifurcate gambling into two kinds: games of skill and chance, the Constitution leaves it to states to legislate on gambling.

The main law for gambling in India was the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which created a distinction between between games of skill and chance. Though the law was only applicable to erstwhile British era provinces, many states adopted laws in line with the PGA as their own state laws; some like Uttar Pradesh have simply adopted the PGA. In addition to this, our laws and Supreme Court judgements have also affirmed this distinction.

Indian courts have adopted the dominant factor or predominance test to distinguish between games of skill and chance. It essentially depends on which factor — skill or chance — is the dominating factor determining the result of the game.

However, such games, whether skill or chance based involve stakes and can often be viewed as sin or immoral services that can be harmful, addictive, especially to young people and to children. This has led to multiple states banning online gambling or games involving real-money stakes, whether they are skill-based or chance-based.

States that have banned games involving stakes 

  • Kerala bans online rummy for stakes, amends state Gaming Act [read]
  • Tamil Nadu bans online bets, rummy and poker; exempts games of skill [read]
  • Andhra CM asks MEITY to ban online gaming sites [read]

States considering similar bans 

  • Karnataka HC nudges state govt on online gambling regulation [read]
  • Uttar Pradesh to enact new law to control online gambling [read]
  • Rajasthan to make penalties for online gambling, betting stricter [read]

States that welcome games involving stakes 

  • Summary: Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Ordinance, 2021 [read]
  • Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Gaming Act, 2016 [download]
  • Nagaland government issues first online skill games license to Khelo365 – All India Gaming Federation [From 2016] [read]
  • Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 [download]
  • Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970 [download]

Advertisements Regulation 

  • New rules for real money gaming ads require disclaimers, cannot depict children [read]
  • TORF asked to remove or change ad claiming rummy websites have ‘no bots’ [read]
  • The Online Rummy Federation asked to remove ad for violating gaming ads code [read]
  • Six people from different cities have taken offence on Vishal Gondal’s comments on real-money gaming [read]

Regulatory Developments 

  • NITI Aayog’s discussion paper on regulation of online fantasy sports platforms in India [download]; read our summary.
  • No clarity on the status of online gaming and betting in India [From 2019] [read]
  • All India Gaming Federation wants regulation of online gambling to be an election promise [read]
  • Law Commission recommends legalisation of gambling and sports betting [download the Commission’s report, read our story]
  • Shashi Tharoor introduces bill to regulate the online gambling; what about regulating promotions? [read]
  • Shashi Tharoor: Regulating online sports gaming can increase revenues and weed out black money [read]
  • All India Gaming Federation CEO says regulation will help companies grow and weed out grey market [read]
  • Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports has a new chairman — India’s former CIC Bimal Julka [read]

Ecosystem Developments 

  • No data on losses suffered, suicides due to online gambling: MEITY [read]
  • Paytm restored on Google Play Store, after being removed for gambling policy violations [read]
  • Paytm First Games back on Google Play Store, but paid contests not allowed [read]
  • Nazara’s IPO prospectus: Risks, regulations, areas of operation, strategy [read]
  • Nazara gets betting license in Kenya; plans sports betting, fantasy sports games launches [From 2018] [read]
  • Paytm First Games starts online betting on horse races in Mumbai, Pune [read]

Views

  • Restricting underage access to porn and gambling sites: a good idea, but technically tricky [read]
  • In the End, the House Always Wins: State of Real Money Gaming in India [read]
  • Separating the wheat from the chaff in India’s real-money gaming sector [read]
  • IT Rules 2021: How will it impact real money gaming websites [read]

Judgments and high court cases around real money gaming and online gambling  

  • Dream11 swats away Rajasthan HC challenge, court lends credibility to self-regulation body FIFS [read]
  • Delhi HC routes another petition against online gambling to state govt as representation [read]
  • Gujarat HC wants state govt to act on online gambling and rummy apps [read]

Industry Reports 

  • The Sports Law & Policy Center’s 2018 report on laws relating to fantasy sports games in India [download here]
  • Unpacking a Billion Dollar Industry: Digital Games and Sports in India, a report by IAMAI and Ikigai Law [download]
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