Is Cricket Betting Legal in India?

Its citizens are fanatical about the sport but is betting legal in India? This guide tells you everything you need to know.

Is it Legal to Bet on Cricket in India?

The formal answer is that betting on cricket is generally outlawed here but it is possible for residents of India to bet on the sport. Their options for doing this include the underground network plus a range of offshore betting operators that are accessible to the country’s bettors.

india-wide-flag

Differences Between a Game of Chance and a Game of Skill

These are terms that we see in other countries where betting is either outlawed or heavily regulated but what do they actually mean? A game of chance relies on pure luck and the most obvious examples of this would include dice games and lotteries.

A game of skill would require the bettor to make an informed judgement on what the likely outcome of an event would be. The curious thing about India is the fact that horse racing is considered a game of skill whereas cricket isn’t.

That’s a difficult issue to understand and one that helps to make the betting landscape in India a confusing one. Here we have one of the best cricketing nations on earth where the Indian Premier League is the biggest competition of its kind. However skilled the competitors may be, this is still considered to be a game of chance.

I certainly wouldn’t be disrespectful to horse racing and suggest that this is a game of chance but I would say that there is more skill involved in cricket so this is a confusing contrast.

The ‘grey areas’ around betting continue in the toleration of offshore betting sites. In regards to offshore ships that contain betting halls, these are not considered to be ‘on land’ so they are largely ignored by the lawmakers.

The same principle applies to online betting sites based overseas. There is no specific law in India which bans online betting and that’s why there is something of a loophole that many citizens are taking advantage of.

Public Gaming Act of 1867

This is an ancient law going back over 150 years but certain parts of this legislation remain relevant in the present day. In particular, the Public Gaming Act of 1867 covers the rules concerning the ownership of or the running of a public gaming house.

Essentially, this act forbids such actions.

sports-betting-legal-in-india

What is the Punishment for Cricket Betting in India?

The punishment for breaking the gaming act of 1867 involves a fine of 200 RS or, in certain cases, there is the potential for the transgressor to be imprisoned for up to three months.

Repeat offending and the nature and severity of the case can have a bearing on which punishment is handed out.

Public Gambling Act 1976

This act marks another important milestone in regards to gambling in India. While the Public Gambling Act doesn’t accommodate sports betting in any form, it does allow for casinos to be set up on offshore vessels or at five-star hotels with prior permission.

This is one of the grey areas of Indian law which makes for a slightly confused environment. Like other countries, the public gambling act allows for operations to be set up which can accommodate overseas visitors. Casino tourism is big business but these establishments are also frequented by local players.

Information Technology Act 2000

With the internet starting to take hold at the beginning of a new century, new rules had to be put in place to govern gambling in India. The Information Technology Act of 2000 is an area of Indian law which is there to assist digital service providers.

Under the act, those providers have the power to block betting sites from overseas. It’s a comprehensive piece of legislation which is designed to cover many areas but it can clearly be applied to sports betting.

In theory, with sports betting in India subject to such strict rules, those providers can look to block overseas gambling websites. In practise, however, the process isn’t very efficient and most online betting sites can be accessed from within the country.

The Information Technology Act of 2000 may be designed to halt the progression of online betting in India but it doesn’t really do its job. As mentioned above, there is no specific law banning the practise of gambling online and, because the majority of those offshore sites remain accessible, the Indian betting community can decide between a number of different betting sites.

india-cricket-betting-legal

Where is Sports Online Betting Legal in India?

While the attitude to cricket betting in India is fairly uniform across the country, there are certain differences from state to state. Here is a brief round up of the biggest regions:

Andhra Pradesh

The practise here is governed by the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act of 1974 and this outlaws most forms of gambling within the state.

The exceptions to this rule are horse racing, rummy and any state run lotteries. Outside of those three activities, betting in India is illegal but news reports suggest that Andhra Pradesh may be home to some significant underground gambling activity.

Karnataka

The sport of horse racing is very big in Karnataka. It was made legal by the state authorities in the 1970s and there are two big courses in Mysore and Bangalore. Betting on horse racing is tolerated as is rummy where a landmark case in 1995 confirmed that this was a game of skill rather than a game of chance.

Overall, however, Karnataka is not very tolerant to gambling and the government even goes so far as to place heavy restrictions on lottery play.

Maharashtra

This is another region where horse racing and state run lotteries are allowed but that’s about it. Legislation within Maharashtra doesn’t even make allowances for the card game rummy.

There is an interest in sports betting here but the Bombay Wager Act makes it illegal to carry out any form of online gambling within the state.

Sikkim

Sikkim stands alone as the first state in India to allow some form of online sports betting. In 2009, the practise of online gambling was legalized here, subject to certain conditions. It is stipulated in local law that any servers must come from within the state of Sikkim and those who are granted a license can open up for staking on a number of sports.

Cricket betting is especially popular here with the Indian Premier League being a big focus. Other popular sports include soccer, rugby and horse racing. The majority of gamblers are tourists, however, and one of India’s few licensed casinos is based in Sikkim.

Uttar Pradesh

In terms of population, this is the biggest state in India but there are no laws in place which allow gambling in Uttar Pradesh. We do know that the practise takes place here and that cricket betting is especially popular but most of this takes place illegally.

Uttar Pradesh may be open to change in the future and it has seriously considered opening up a land based casino close to the country’s biggest tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal. That has yet to happen but the size of the population and the keen interest in sports and sports betting may see changes being made in the near future.

Is Cricket Betting Legal in Goa?

I’ve given this a separate section because, as a major tourist destination, Goa is something of an anomaly within Indian law relating to gambling. The first casino in India opened here in 1999 and live gambling in person is now legal for anyone over the age of 18.

At the time of writing, there are now seven land based casinos in the region. In addition, casino games can also be found in five star hotels while a significant number of offshore boats offer card and table games.

Officially, Goa has yet to legalize gambling on sports but some of those casinos offer sports betting facilities as well, and cricket betting is especially popular within those establishments.

Cricket-Betting-Legal-in-India-feat

Conclusion

There is no real clear conclusion that we can draw here: While there are a number of public gambling acts still in operation, there is no definite answer to the question, is betting legal in India?

What we can say is that the practise isn’t fully legalised across the country. It’s also certain that, with the current exception of Sikkim, an online betting site cannot be established within India as there is no provision for licensing and regulation.

Cricket and other Indian sports remain popular and there is a loophole that can allow residents to take part in online betting in India. While the Information Technology Act of 2000 fails to block overseas gambling or betting sites, players here can sign up with foreign providers that accept Indian players. There are many who allow registrations from India and it’s even possible to play with Indian Rupees in places.

Perhaps it’s time for the government to lessen those restrictions and allow for a more open and less confusing landscape with regards to gambling and betting in India.