Is Online Betting Legal in India?

Cricket is extremely popular in India, and as well as having a large audience, there is also a lot of money that is bet around it. India’s cricket betting markets are estimated to be worth at least US$150 billion annually according to the International Centre for Sports Security. They estimate that around US$200 million is bet on every ODI fixture played by the Indian team. But is cricket online betting legal in India?

Answer: Yes. Cricket online betting is legal in India.

The best legal betting sites in India

Gambling laws are decided by the states

online betting legal

The first thing we must stress is that Indian gambling laws are incredibly vague. There are so many grey areas that it can keep things pretty confusing. First it must be understood that India’s laws do not ban online gambling on a national level. Second, the 1950 constitution of India declares that each state is allowed to formulate their own gambling laws independently of each other.

With each state having the power to create their own laws pertaining to online betting, indeed, a few states have banned betting. Although it is technically still possible to bet on cricket online from those states where gambling is forbidden (after all individuals living there are not IP blocked from accessing betting sites), you do so at your own risk.

What are the Gambling laws in India?

Gambling laws are up to the discretion of each individual state. They each have differing views.

State Status
Goa Permits gambling and has ten casinos
Daman Permits gambling and has one casino
Sikkim Permits gambling and has two casinos
Utter Pradesh All forms of gambling forbidden
Andhra Pradesh All forms of gambling forbidden apart from horse racing, rummy and the state run lottery
Telangana All forms of gambling forbidden
Tamil Nadu All forms of gambling forbidden
Maharashtra Games of skill permitted while games of luck are prohibited
Karnataka Games of skill permitted while games of luck are prohibited
Nagaland Games of skill permitted while games of luck are prohibited

There are no specific laws regarding online betting in other Indian states, making it a total legal grey area.

Games of Chance versus Games of Skill

Indian law differentiates between games played for money between those that depend on luck versus those that depend on a player's level of skill.

What is the difference between a game of skill and a game of luck?

A game of luck is a game where the player’s actions have zero impact on the outcome of the game.

An example of a game of luck is roulette. No matter how much experience and knowledge you have about roulette, your chances of winning will always remain exactly the same. There is nothing you can do to influence the outcome.

A game of skill is a game where the player’s actions increase their chances of success when they know more about the game being played. Sports betting requires an element of skill. You can train yourself to become better at cricket betting by following our cricket betting guide.

In 1996, it was decided by the Supreme Court of India that horse race betting should be legal because it is based on skill rather than based on luck. Although, this same logic suggests that all sports betting should be legal, alas that is not the case.

Another supreme court decision in 2015 declared that rummy was also a game of skill. The Supreme Court ruled that rummy involved a substantial amount of skill and therefore could continue with threat of persecution. Furthermore, in 2019, the Bombay high court stated that fantasy sports depended upon a player’s superior knowledge, judgement and attention and therefore was undoubtable a game of skill and not chance. These rulings, although separate from each other, are paving a positive road to wards the full legislation of cricket betting throughout the country.

Why is online betting legal In India?

India has a rich history and culture of gambling. However, Gambling was prohibited in India by the British during their colonial rule when they enacted the 1867 Public Gambling Act. This law made it illegal for Indian citizens to use or offer public gambling services by banning "betting houses". However, the text of this law makes no mention of the internet (indeed, the internet had not yet been invented in 1867) and so does not apply online gambling websites.

The reasoning behind this rests upon geography. While physical betting houses and bookies located within the India may be illegal, most online betting sites and sportsbooks are based and hosted offshore and therefore not subject to Indian law. The internet is not a physical place.

Furthermore, while online casinos and sportsbooks operated and run by Indian citizens may infringe upon any gambling restrictions put in place by state law, foreign establishments catering to Indian customers are perfectly fine. They can even offer depositing and payouts in Indian rupees and be available in Indian language such as Hindi, Bengali and Guajarati (just to name a few).This loophole may seem odd and disadvantageous to Indian businesses and the local economy, unfortunately that is what the latter of the law permits.

One imagines that if the government of India had really wanted to make online betting illegal, they simply could have drafted a law prohibiting online betting. They have never done that. That is why Indian citizens can legally register on online gambling sites and bet on cricket and other sports without fear that they are breaking the law.

Only bet at licensed betting sites

Due to offshore betting sites being beyond the realm of Indian law, there has been a bit of a free for all. It is important to state that many of these are themselves untrustworthy or worse, scam sites. One should only use a betting site that is licensed by a known state entity. Three important ones are the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and Curacao eGaming. These internationally recognised bodies are the gold standard of online gambling licensing and sites licensed by them are regularly audited and checked to make sure they are secure and treat their players fairly.

No persecutions

On the books illegal gambling can be punishable by a fine of up to 200 INR and in certain cases a brief prison sentence. However, to date, not a single case is known of an Indian citizen that was arrested for betting online. Huge providers of sports betting would never offer their services to Indians if there was no way to make cricket betting legal. That being said, it is best to exercise caution and make sure that you aren’t breaking the law of the state you are in when you decide to bet online. We also recommend that you do not advertise to the world that you are gambling online, but that's just common sense!

Bet online at legal and secure betting sites

Online gambling in India remains a complicated and disputed issue with many calling for its full legalisation and regulation, while others demand it be fully banned. Many state laws and federal laws contradict one another and you may find that different people have their own interpretations of the law.

As it stands, online cricket betting sits in a legal area where it is not illegal, but lacks proper consumer protections. But until the national and state governments clarify any legislation it will still possible to bet online both legally and safely in India, just as long as you join one of these safe and legitimate betting sites for cricket:

The best legal betting sites in India

Disclaimer

Please be advised that we are not legal experts. All the legal information in this article is a compilation of extensive research and consultations with experts on Indian law. If you would like to have more through information please contact a lawyer.