Legality of Gambling in India


This article has been written by Mansi Singh,  a 1st year student of Amity Law School Raipur, Chhattisgarh.


Gambling also known as Betting or staking is the wagering of money or something of value, on an event with an uncertain outcome. There this a consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome, or an uncertain event whose outcome may be determined by chance or accident or unexpected result by reason of the bettor’s miscalculation.

For example: single roll of dice, spin of a roulette wheel, or a horse crossing the finishing line.

Gambling in India is stiffly restricted except in certain categories which include “Lotteries and Horse racing”. In 21 century, more people are indulged in these activities and have started making cash bets upon prohibited betting and gambling activities in India. Critics claim that these activities leads to crime, corruption and money laundering. But proponents of gambling argue that it can bring huge amount of revenue for the state. For example: – Casino in Goa contributed Rs. 135 crores to the state revenue in 2013.[1]

The Gambling Industry

The Indian constitution has given authority to every state to make specific laws on betting and gambling. Sate of Assam has Assam Gaming and Betting Act,1970, Goa has Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. Every state in India has its own Gambling rules and laws. The gambling laws were enacted before the age of online Gambling. Sikkim and Nagaland are the only state that have adopted specific permits and regulation on online gambling. Telangana amended its laws and included provisions of online gambling. The first online casino was established on August 18, 1995. There was only one casino at that time and whole market of online gambling can be seen. Gambling industry is one of the highest revenue earner industry, and about 30% of them are from Asia.

The gambling legislation govern and regulate casinos in India. The laws in Goa, Daman, Diu and Sikkim allow gambling in these states with some limitations. The casino can be opened only in five-star hotel. And in Goa it can be on land and can also be bard on an offshore vessel.

The center has the power to make laws on lotteries. The rules and laws related to lotteries have are not the part of Gambling Legislation of the sate and are governed under the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998 and lottery (Regulation) Rules, 2010. Certain states have also banned lottery game like Madhya Pradesh. Horse Racing is another from of gambling. It has been given a special status under the gambling Act. In KR Lakshmanan v State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court held that “The game of horse racing involves skills like fitness and also involves the skill of horse.” These were the traditional form of gambling. The current market is overtaken by the online industry

The games played online involve teen patti, poker rummy. This online industry also involve sports betting. There are numerous number of online websites that attract users by hosting online gambling.


Gambling is a state subject and only states in India are responsible and entitled to make laws for gambling activities in their respective states. The public Gambling Act of 1867 is a act made and controlled by central laws. Which prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. And if the laws is broken by any of the citizen the penalty is a fine of Rs. 200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months. The Act also forbid visiting gambling house. And if the same is done a fine of Rs. 100 or imprisonment of up to one month is the penalty.

The Indian laws classify games in to two broad categories

  1. Game of skills.
  2. Game of chance


The game of gambling is legal or allowed in some parts of India. The legislation of Goa has amended the provision of state gambling act, in Goa Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. There were 7 land-based casino and various offshore casinos in Goa.  The second state to legislate gambling is Sikkim. The Sikkim Casino Games (Control and tax Rules) 2002 grant license and permission to operate business of Casino in Sikkim. The Sikkim Regulation Act 2005 provide authority to allow gambling on certain days and to prohibit the same on certain days.

Also Read:  CLAT-2013 Results Out for LLB & LLM. Download From LawLex.

Regarding online gambling the central government has no jurisdiction on online gambling games. The license for the same is obtained by the UK licensed bookmakers which is legal under European and International laws. But India laws have taken action to make it difficult to reach these sites.[2]


  • k.R. Lakshmana v State of Tamil Nadu

In this case it was held that, gambling is a game in which payment of a price for a chance to win something. The game can have skill or could be based on luck. For example: the game involving dice is fully based on luck. Game of skill can also sometimes involve chance but that does not mean it completely depend on chance. The success in such games depend on the knowledge of the person playing. Rummy was considered as game of skill in this judgement. So, the decision taken was the game which involve skills is valid and luck-based games are illegal.

  • State of Andhra Pradesh v K. Satyanarayana and ors.

It was decided that rummy is not entirely a game of chance. Rummy requires certain amount of skill i.e. you need to memories the cards and for that considerable amount of skill is necessary. The game was compared to the game of bridge.

  • Director General of Police v Mahalakshmi Cultural Association

In this case the court held that though the game of rummy involve skills and chance: predominately skills are legal. But when played for stakes it is illegal. The association filed a special Leave Petition with the apex court of India. The petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court. In 2015, the SC allowed the Association to withdraw its original Writ Petition.

  • M/s Gaussian Network Pvt.Ltd. v Ms. Monica Lakhanpal

This is another landmark case in the field of gambling. The Gaussian Network approached the district court in Delhi under the order 32 of CPC. The issue was about online gaming. The court observed the difference in games of skill played online versus in physical form. The court took reference of Mahalakshmi case and held that there is a difference between case of online games and offline games. In real game more presence of mind is required. One argument was that if it is legal online then It can be legal offline. There are online sites which provide free online games which are legal. Hence, the judgement of the case was binding only on the parties involved and not on whole India.

  • Dominance Games Pvt Ltd. V State of Gujarat

In this case the Gaussian case was taken into cognizance. And was held that the game of poker is illegal under the Gujarat prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.[3]


Keeping in mind the current situation the laws in India are quite confusing and uncertain regarding gambling. Judiciary decide various cases to clear the air and provide clarity on the subject. But also, certain cases and judgement also held that gambling is illegal in India. There are certain legislation that make it valid but only in certain states. Gambling is legal in areas involving horse racing, lottery and rummy. These games involve skills and not luck. the place and law is different in entire India.

In UK, there are various functioning legal websites involved in gambling which provides easy access to Indians. The Indian laws are more focused to scare Indians to not gamble then to prevent them from gambling.









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