A Critical Analysis of Gambling Laws In India


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As once Wilson Mizner said“Gambling, The sure way of getting nothing for something.” Does ignite a spark of bringing a new face to the legislation pertaining to gambling in India, this generation is in a wake of getting gambling legalized as a whole. The very essence of this Research is to provide the reader’s with the knowledge of the general gambling legislation in India as it stands today, how things are altering with a direction to move forward.The fact remains whether a man is rich or poor , gambling is sure the best bet at a chance to become richer,albeit the chance are more of a probability than a possibility to be rich. In India with a vast population of over a billion there is bound to be gamblers enjoying gambling, for instance sports betting is a very popular particularly Horse racing and cricket,that being the fact, it is though prohibited. Gambling laws in India are lacking clarity and is outdated for this generation.Casino gambling and playing poker are popular , albeit the legalities subject to gambling have not made much progress in terms of being clear and in force in the entire territory of India except one state and one union territory. My research aims to supply the reader with a critical analysis of Gambling laws in India that ranges from the archaic regulating laws to the the areas where gambling is legal in furtherance of a possible landmark judgement to legitimize gambling as whole in the territory of India.

Public Gaming Act of 1867:

The Public Gaming Act,1867 is the main legal framework that regulates Gambling in India, one of its salient features made it illegal for establishment which conducted  gambling to operate, albeit it still remains unanswered what the actual meaning of gambling is within its definition prescribed under section 2 of the public gaming act, 1876. For instance betting in games like cricket, football, horse racing as its based on pure skill, whereas rolling a dice and getting the exact number for winning is a probability, therefore establishing that the public gaming act,1867 should be amended to determine what all can be bett-ed in or legalizing the whole gambling industry online and off-line with an added advantage of imposing huge cess slabs on the public gaming.However that is not the case for the Public Gaming Act , it is not clear and archaic, to establish a comprehension to demarcate the flows, section 12, of the act says : “Act not to apply to certain games. Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Act contained shall be held to apply to any game of mere skill wherever played”.

Skill Games Are Allowed

The Public Gambling Act itself doesn’t define gambling, in the year 1996 ,the hon’ble Supreme Court of India gave a definite definition of games that cover that skills as follows:

“The competitions where success depends on substantial degree of skill are not “gambling” and despite there being an element of chance if a game is preponderantly a game of skill it would nevertheless be a game of “mere skill”.”[1]

Betting in Horse Racing:

A person wanting to bet on horse races is allowed to do so, as it been legalized at state levels, operators can provide and render services to such betting events. The question arises how different is a mere gaming event such as horse racing overall different from other forms of gambling? , thus pertaining our the contradiction of gambling laws in India.

Lotteries (Regulation) Act of 1998:

The lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998 was passed by the parliament of India to render state governments  the right to authorize lotteries within their jurisdiction and govern the operation of lotteries, where a maximum of one draw is permitted per week, albeit in reality that is just on paper.

Gambling As Is:

The state of Goa and Sikkim have fully legalized gambling at casino’s, be it in hotels or cruise ships ( Goa marine territory ). As for a matter of fact the state of Sikkim is the one and only state in India which passed an online Gambling law, thus enacted the Sikkim Online Gaming ( Regulation ) Act, 2008 , for online gambling and sports betting with the primary objective to control and regulate online gambling via e-formats in furtherance of imposing tax on such online gambling and betting in the state of Sikkim. The Sikkim Online Gaming ( Regulation ) Rules, 2009, was also enacted with the following the Act. Gambling is allowed in a limited extent, Whereby establishments such as hotels, casino’s  must obtain a license for carrying out such activities.

Legality of Rummy and Poker:

In a Public Interest Litigation filed by various gaming organizations that includes  Mahalaxmi Cultural Association, Madras City Club (India) Pvt Ltd, Madras Darkhorse Farm & Land Development Pvt Ltd, and Madras Sakthi Recreation Centre , The apex court of India is expected to issue a verdict for the same.”It has been authoritatively established that such competition that is a competition of pure skill shall be rendered as not gambling.here, the act of practice of gambling is based on a probability rather than a possibility, thus the basis of chance is a determining factor where it is also the controlling factor. So, gambling in other words would be wagering or betting on games of pure skill and chance.


In this legal research, I have surveyed The very essence to provide the reader’s with the knowledge of gambling law prevalent in India with the plight in the existence of gambling and betting whether online or otherwise.In conclusion to this paper , there has not been any specific discourse on the legality of poker in India, albeit the apex court of India is on a possible verge in rendering  a verdict in classifying poker and rummy as a game of skill  and statistical evidence on the quality or fact of being greater in number, quantity, or importance of skill in poker and rummy is a way of aiding the hon’ble Indian judiciary in giving recognition to the game of poker and rummy to be a game of skill separate from gambling.

[1] Indian Gambling Laws, avilable at http://sportsbetting.net.in/gambling-laws/

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