Is Online Betting Legal in India? (2021)

Is online betting legal in India?

A question that has befuddled many. To be fair, betting in India and the Indian subcontinent as a whole – be it in the form of online lottery, casino, or sports betting – is elaborate at best and convoluted at its worst.

In this article, we’ll tell you if you can bet from India without getting into a legal tangle, which betting sites are legal in India, and when will betting become legal in India in its entirety?

5 Legal Betting Sites in India

  • 100% welcome bonus up to ₹10k
  • Punters can now place bets without leaving the app via Telegram
  • Wide range of payment methods, including Paytm
  • Sign up bonus of up to ₹4k
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  • Excellent customer service
  • 100% Welcome bonus up to ₹10k
  • One of the best beginner-friendly operators
  • Accepts net banking and UPI
  • 150% Welcome bonus up to ₹12k
  • Nominal minimum deposit of only ₹300 required to avail of the bonus
  • Excellent casino games section
  • 100% Welcome bonus up to ₹10k + 20 Free spins
  • Wide range of sports betting markets
  • Exciting promotions on daily basis

Which Betting Sites are Legal in India?

  1. 1xBet
  2. bet365
  3. Betway
  4. Parimatch
  5. 10Cric

Is Online Betting Legal in India?

As we said earlier, it is a little confusing. But we’ll try our best to simplify things for you.

In India, betting of any form and shape is not a 100 percent legal. That said, illegitimacy hasn’t been expressly stated anywhere. For example, gambling on horse races or sports betting in India has been prevalent for a long, long time. Not only are they money-churners but incredibly popular among the masses too.

Of course, the central government does have a stance, which is that gambling on any game of chance is illegal throughout the country. We have explained in brief the whole game-of-chance-vs-game-of-luck matter later on in this article.

Is Online Betting Legal in India: A Brief Backstory

During the British Raj, the Public Gambling Act (1867) prohibited all forms of betting and gambling-related activities. This law illegitimated even visiting a facility offering gambling services. SO, one would think it was pretty stringent. And it really was.

But then went out the colonial powers, and in came the internet (that didn’t happen in succession, of course). This got most wondering, “Is online betting legal in India?”. That’s because the archaic Gambling Act doesn’t have anything to say about online betting or the legitimacy of it.

The government could have easily passed legislation banning online betting, but they never did that. Does that mean online betting in India is legal and safe? That’s precisely what we’ve answered next.

Is Online Betting Safe in India?

According to the apex court of the land, horse races and rummy are games of skill, and hence, aren’t illegal. Whenever asked ‘Is Online betting legal in India’, most top lawyers maintain that the whole legitimacy surrounding the use of online betting sites is decidedly hazy as there’s no mention of online gambling in the Public Gambling Act, 1867.

From this, we can deduce that online betting in India is outside of the ambit of the laws and regulations, and hence, isn’t prohibited.

The caveat is that the central government has left it to the states to decide if they’d like to legalise or outlaw online gambling. More importantly, we don’t know of any incident of anybody involved in online betting being prosecuted. Rest assured, no dispensation will go around apprehending people.

Summary

  • Is online betting legal in India? Yes, rest assured that it isn’t illegal. In all honesty, it is a grey area.
  • The central government has left it to the states to decide.

We shall go a step forward and say that online betting is legal in India, with the exception of a few states.

Is Online Betting Legal in India? Let the States Say

The Constitution of India, which came into force in 1950, specifies that states can formulate their own gambling rules and regulations. In fact, states can tax earnings from gambling and betting-related activities.

The move seeks to lend autonomy to states in deciding whether online gambling would be legalised or prohibited in their territories. This means that every state has its own laws – a few strict, some a lot less stringent.

  • In Karnataka and Maharashtra, games of skill are legal, whereas those that rely on chance are banned.
  • In Sikkim, the state government has been trying to regulate and legalise online gambling and betting. They’ve been accepting licensing requests from online operators too. Such a license would cover a gamut of activities, including betting on cricket at the best cricket betting sites.
  • In a few other states like Tamil Nadu, there’s no legislation either banning or legalising online betting. So, it isn’t a criminal offence, and one won’t be prosecuted for indulging in online gambling.
  • West Bengal has been increasingly becoming the hub of poker in India. It is categorically labelled a ‘game of skill’ as per the West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act, 1957.

Check out the best online poker sites in India.

Games of Skills vs Games of Luck

Is online betting legal in India?

To understand it better, we must first nail the differences between games of chance and those reliant on skills.

Games of skill vs games of chance

So, what is a game of skill?

It could be any game where the player can better the chances of success by learning more about it. According to this logic, online sports betting should undoubtedly be categorised as a ‘game of skill’. The more you follow a particular sport/tournament/team/player, the greater your chances of calling that bet correctly.

And what is a game of chance?

Simple. It could be a range of games where you (or your skills) have no bearing on the final result. An example of this would be roulette. No matter how much you learn about online roulette and the best online roulette sites, you still cannot influence the outcome. Once the tiny ball goes into the roulette wheel, it can land anywhere. My bet is as good as yours.

What About Sports Betting?

1xbet screenshot

Sample this. India is taking on New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship Final. Now, you are a cricket betting enthusiast and know almost everything there is to the clash. You know the two teams’ H2H records and have dissected players’ form, pitch report, weather conditions, team news, and every other nugget of information that typically go into making the best cricket prediction in the world.

Therefore, your chances of calling the match outcome correctly will certainly be much more than somebody with no idea of how to bet on cricket. So, you understand, your skill is involved here, a skill that you’ve honed for years watching cricket and the several top cricket tournaments happening worldwide.

On a similar note, think about the 2008 Wimbledon final. Rafael Nadal gunning for his first Championship and the then reigning (and five-time) champion Roger Federer looking to extend his glorious run at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Now, would there have been any chance for the tennis newbie to prophesy that Nadal would go on to upset the apple cart and create history by defeating the Swiss maestro and winning his first Wimbledon title? Of course not. One would have to be a keen follower of this beautiful sport to even think about Wimbledon betting, let alone acing it.

However, despite such overwhelming proof of it involving a skill-based approach, whether sports betting is legal or not hasn’t been categorically stated anywhere.

The same skills and learning come into play while wagering on any other sport — be it field hockey betting or kabaddi betting, for that matter.

What About Fantasy Sports?

Dream 11 screenshot

App-based fantasy sports are perfectly legal. These typically consist of squad selectors or predictors. With the former, you bet on the full-time result or the margin of victory. You get points if your bet wins. Simple.

But squad selectors are a little more elaborate. Here, you build an entire team for yourself – comprising players from the two teams that will play a real-world match on that day — and nominate a captain. There’s a mock budget you have to stick to. The general rule is that better players will cost more.

Now, should these selections of yours play well in the actual match, they win points for you as well. The best example we can think of fantasy sports betting is Dream 11.

Take Dream 11 fantasy cricket, for instance. You build your own cricket team with players from any upcoming real-world match and compete with others for lucrative prizes ranging from regular cash winnings to big-ticket cash jackpots.

And Casino Games?

Again, the same old quandary for betting and gambling enthusiasts in the country. There is no legislation in India prohibiting users from participating in online casino games.

That said, going by the book, casino games can well be categorised as games of chance that require only a sprinkling of luck (and no skill whatsoever). So, technically, this is a grey area.

But thanks to the utterly contradictory and confusing maze that is the gambling space in the country, the best online casino sites in India are a huge fan favourite, offering a raft of table games, slots, and live games like roulette, blackjack, poker, teen patti, and andar bahar.

Future of Online Betting in India

Is online betting legal in India? The answer to this is, unfortunately, not as clear as day at the moment. But it is not unreasonable to expect that it will be moving forward. In the coming years, India’s gambling legislation will hopefully be amended to provide a clearer idea of what’s legal and what’s not.

There are a few indications that the central government is keen on regulating online betting across the country. But there seems to be a lack of motivation for all the political legwork required for such a massive change.

The online gaming industry and associated experts have been prodding the government to establish a self-regulatory committee to standardise online betting-related regulations.

A large chunk of the population might still be conservative and unwelcoming of the idea of granting legitimacy to online gambling and betting. But the youth, who are clearly the future, are more open-minded. And if they continue supporting the cause of legalisation, then a regulated online betting framework might just be close at hand.

Is Online Betting Legal in India FAQs

Is online betting legal in India?

That’s precisely what the article is all about. But, to cut a long story short, yes. Online betting is legal in India. No legislation prohibits Indian bettors from indulging in online betting. Sure, states have their own laws, and some may be a little more restrictive than the others.

But, in the larger scheme of things, online betting is legitimate, safe, and a prevalent activity across the country.

Which betting sites are legal in India?

Any betting site that is based outside the country is legal and can engage players from India. But that is the point – for any operator to be considered legit and safe, it will need to be run from outside the country. That is why you won’t come across an Indian betting site headquartered within the country.

Also, that’s the reason why Indians prefer international operators like 10Cric, Betway, and bet365.

Are winnings from online betting/gambling taxed?

Yes, earnings from online gambling are taxable under ‘Income from Other Sources’ at a flat 30% + 4% cess, which comes to 31.2%. Also, the minimum exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh doesn’t apply to income from online gambling or betting.

How do I deposit money into my online betting account?

There are plenty of options allowing you to deposit funds in your online betting account. For instance, the best betting sites accept Skrill and Neteller. While these are recognised banking methods, they may not be the most convenient for Indian bettors and casino buffs.

Some of the safest and hassle-free deposit methods for players from India are Google Pay, Paytm, and PhonePe. You can also check out our post on the best betting payment methods in India.

Are online casino games legal in India?

Yes, they are. There is no law that bans it categorically. That said, a few states, of course, have their own regulations that label casino games as ‘games of chance’ and not of skill. Now, going by the textbook definition, ‘games of chance’ are banned, whereas ‘games of skill’ are allowed in India.

However, online casino games have only been increasing in popularity in the country. While the utterly confusing gambling laws make it a grey area, hundreds of thousands of Indians love online casino games and win big money regularly.

CricketBettingAdvice Final Say

We got to understand that India is one massive country with a population that’s huge and diverse in equal measure. Some have a liberal worldview, while a few remain conservative. Therefore, we’re often incredibly divided on online betting and whether it should be legal in India.

It isn’t a shocker that many in the country enjoy betting and gambling on casino games. Sports like cricket and football are intrinsically woven into India’s social fabric, and therefore, betting on the outcome of these sports has traditionally been a national recreation of sorts. Betting on cricket and horse racing, in particular, remains extremely popular.

Why the former’s legitimacy hasn’t been expressly stated anywhere is a hot topic for debate. But that’s for another day.

Similarly, gambling on casino games and poker was at a point in time a pastime for the elite, but not anymore. Today, it has found takers in ordinary citizens as well.

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