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Are Online Casinos Legal In India in 2024?

According to some statistics, roughly 80% of Indian citizens gamble every single year.

While gambling has been one of humanity’s favorite pastimes since the beginning of civilization, it’s important to stress a few things. First, while many gambling activities are illegal or borderline illegal, the problem comes from the lack of clarity. In other words, most of the gambling industry operates in the gray zone.

The country has just one gambling law, which started in 1867. The rest are state regulations and laws that marginally address the subject.

Sure, the fact that so many people gamble means that there is a way to do so, even despite bans or lack of regulation. Still, since this industry is getting bigger by the minute, it’s a shame to miss out on the opportunity to tax it or, at the very least, provide some sort of customer protection.

With all of this in mind, one has to ask the question – are online casinos legal in India in 2024, and what will the future bring for this industry? Let’s check it out!

There’s a lack of definitive law on online betting
It’s not that far-fetched to say that online betting in India isn’t that well-regulated. Betting, in general, is regulated by the Public Gambling Act, which dates all the way back to 1867 and the colonial era. However, the act itself doesn’t address online gambling specifically.

The only other law that could have addressed it is The Information Technology Act of 2000, which doesn’t mention online casinos specifically. This means that, unless regulated by state law, there’s so much room for interpretation.

Most importantly, there are no laws forbidding online casinos unless there are specific state laws and regulations prohibiting them. Moreover, even in states where such a thing would be prohibited, there are ways to circumvent it. For instance, while hosting an online casino from within the state may not be allowed, nothing prevents you from finding an online gambling website hosted elsewhere.

State laws and regulations
While states can introduce various regulations, this is an exception and not the rule. More importantly, even when it’s present, it usually restricts specific games, not online casinos, in general.

Some of the states in which these chance-based games are currently banned are:
– Sikkim
– Assam
– Telangana
– Arunachal Pradesh
– Tamil Nadu

Now, it’s important to understand one clear distinction between this ban and bans in other states/countries. Namely, the emphasis goes to “chance” or “luck.” Games that are skill-based, like poker, are usually not banned.

While gambling laws are often decided on the federal level, according to the Indian constitution, states have the right to impose their laws on this matter. Now, different states try to do different things, from observing religious and societal impacts all the way to pragmatic reasons.

As trends change and the popularity of online casinos increases, the regulatory bodies often have trouble keeping up. Most importantly, today, in the era of VPNs and globalized internet access, the old-school prohibition is no longer as effective.

The landscape of betting regulation is dynamic
The debate is ongoing, and new rules and regulations are being passed daily. Sure, the Sikkim Online Gaming Act was passed in 2009, but in 2017, Telangana enacted a ban on online betting and gambling. In 2020, Tamil Nadu followed suit. In other words, this is a field that constantly changes regulations, and this is going to keep happening in both directions.

As one state bans it, another will allow it (or, at least, regulate it more favorably); however, old information is sometimes outdated, and you need to look for recent sources.

Also, keep in mind that the rise of online gambling is much steeper than it ever was. This means that there’s far more reason for actual regulation than before. In other words, the rate at which these laws change will only increase in the following years.

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