Online Gambling in India: Legal Status and Regulatory Insights

Online Gambling in India

Online gambling legality in India vary from state to state. At a federal level, the Public Gambling Act of 1867 serves as the primary legislation governing all forms of gambling in the country, which prohibits land based casinos. This legislation predates the Internet era and doesn't specifically address issues related to online gambling. However, specific states have enacted laws or regulations that pertain to online gambling activities. For instance, the states of Sikkim and Nagaland have introduced licensing frameworks for online gaming operators.

India's New Online Gambling Regulations

India's online gambling landscape is changing with the introduction of new regulations. The intention is to create "self-regulatory" bodies (SRBs) composed of online gaming businesses for sector oversight. These SRBs are responsible for devising rules for online gambling and ensuring adherence.

A notable feature of these SRBs is their board composition, which must include an independent eminent person from online gaming, sports, or entertainment and an individual representing online game players. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is analyzing proposals from gaming federations and associations to streamline the regulatory process.

An essential aspect of the new regulations is that online real money games are only permissible when an SRB verifies. Moreover, SRBs must take active measures to safeguard children, specify risks of gaming addiction and financial loss, and protect against financial fraud. This approach to regulation emphasizes transparency and responsibility within the online gaming sector.

As part of the regulations, online gaming companies must display an SRB verification mark and inform users about withdrawal/refund policies, winnings distribution, fees, and other charges. This requirement ensures a more transparent and user-friendly environment, promoting trust between players and gaming companies.

While these new regulations have their merits, they are not without criticism, especially when compared to the regulatory frameworks in countries like the United States and Canada, where tax structures and legal approaches to online gaming differ. The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has expressed concerns regarding the tax rate, arguing that it may stifle the growth of the online gaming industry.

India's new online gambling regulations serve as a significant step toward establishing transparency, credibility, and player safety in the gambling laws of the India landscape. These changes strive to strike a balance between industry growth and responsible gaming practices by implementing a system that encourages self-regulation and protective measures.

Regulatory Bodies and Compliance

Regulatory bodies play a vital role in overseeing the online gambling industry in India. One notable organization is the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), which helps ensure operators adhere to compliance measures and promote responsible gaming initiatives. They work closely with stakeholders and the government to create a mature and well-regulated gaming environment.

Another key player overseeing the online gambling industry is the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM). They set standards and monitor operators to provide a transparent and accountable sector. By working with other regulatory bodies, such as the AIGF, the NISM ensures that operators maintain the integrity and ethical conduct necessary for a fair gaming industry.

For online gambling operators, obtaining a Gambling Licence in India is crucial for legal operations within the country. This is in contrast to regions like where online gambling is legal where regulations might differ significantly. This license ensures that businesses comply with the laws and regulations set forth by the governing bodies, providing a secure environment for players.

In addition, online gaming intermediaries are now classified as "intermediaries" under the regulatory framework, allowing the government to direct them in blocking public access to selected games and providing information to law enforcement authorities. These regulations further strengthen the industry by preventing illegal activities and strictly adhering to guidelines.

Adapting different game offerings, advertising practices, and responsible gaming initiatives to meet regulatory body requirements contributes to creating a trusted and transparent platform for online gambling in India. By enforcing compliance with these regulatory bodies, the Indian online gambling market can continue to flourish while maintaining player safety and positively impacting the country's economy.

State-specific Laws

The legal landscape of gambling in India is as diverse as its culture, with each state wielding the power to regulate gambling activities within its territory. This section explores the state-specific laws that govern gambling across the nation, highlighting the unique stance each state takes on this complex issue.

Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh has taken a firm stance against online gambling following the The Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974, prohibiting all real-money online gaming activities, including those based on skill, reflecting the state's rigorous approach to gambling regulation.

Arunachal Pradesh

The Arunachal Pradesh Gambling (Prohibition) Act, 2012, sets the legal framework in this state, banning public gambling and the operation of common gaming houses, showcasing the state's conservative outlook on gambling activities.


Assam's legal stance casts a shadow over gambling, explicitly banning all forms of sports betting as indicated in the The Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970, including e-sports and fantasy sports. The state's position on online gambling remains ambiguous, creating a gray area that is currently under scrutiny.


Bihar adheres to the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which prohibits public gambling houses. The state has not enacted any specific laws regarding online gambling, leaving it under the umbrella of central legislation.


Online gambling in Chhattisgarh is regulated under the Chhattisgarh Gambling (Prohibition) Act, 2022, which came into effect on March 23, 2023. This Act prohibits all forms of gambling, including online gambling, that are based on chance. However, it specifically exempts games of skill from its purview.


Goa is an exception in the Indian context, permitting land-based casinos in five-star hotels and on offshore vessels, and has also legalized online gambling, making it a hub for legal gambling activities in India.


Gujarat's gambling laws are restrictive, with general prohibitions on gambling activities except for horse racing and lotteries. The state has not specifically addressed online gambling laws.


Haryana follows the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, with no specific state laws on gambling. The general prohibition on public gambling houses applies, with no clear stance on online gambling.

Himachal Pradesh

This state also adheres to the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, without specific state legislation on gambling, reflecting a conservative approach to gambling activities.


Jharkhand's legal stance on gambling aligns with the central Public Gambling Act of 1867, with no specific state laws enacted to regulate gambling within the state.


Karnataka follows the central legislation without specific state laws on gambling, maintaining a general prohibition on public gambling houses under the Public Gambling Act, 1867.


Kerala permits lotteries and horse racing, but like many other states, it has not specifically legislated on online gambling, leaving it in a legal gray area.

Madhya Pradesh

Following the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, Madhya Pradesh does not have specific state laws on gambling, adhering to the general Indian legal framework.


Maharashtra allows lotteries and horse racing under specific regulations, but has not addressed online gambling specifically, leaving its legal status somewhat ambiguous.


Manipur permits lotteries under state regulation, without specific laws addressing the broader spectrum of gambling activities, including online gambling.


Meghalaya allows lotteries within its jurisdiction, but does not have specific laws governing other forms of gambling, including online platforms.


In Mizoram, lotteries are permitted under state laws, but there is no specific legislation addressing gambling activities more broadly, including online gambling.


Nagaland has taken a progressive step by legalizing and regulating online games of skill, though it does not specifically address land-based gambling laws, marking a significant move towards the regulation of online gaming.


Odisha prohibits skill gaming, reflecting a restrictive stance on gambling activities, including online platforms, underlining the state's conservative approach to gambling.


Punjab permits lotteries under state regulation, but like many other states, it has not specifically addressed the broader spectrum of gambling activities, including online gambling.


Rajasthan follows the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, without specific state laws on gambling, adhering to the general prohibition on public gambling houses.


Sikkim is notable for its liberal gambling laws, permitting land-based casinos in five-star hotels and establishing a licensing regime for online gambling, positioning itself as a leader in regulated gambling within India.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu adheres to the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, with no specific state legislation on gambling, reflecting a general conservative stance on gambling activities.


Telangana prohibits all real-money online gaming activities, including skill-based games, showcasing a strict regulatory approach to gambling within the state.


Tripura follows the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, without specific state laws on gambling, aligning with the general Indian legal framework.

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh adheres to the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, without specific state legislation on gambling, maintaining a conservative approach to gambling activities.


Uttarakhand follows the central Public Gambling Act, 1867, without specific state laws on gambling, reflecting a general prohibition on public gambling houses.

West Bengal

West Bengal permits lotteries and horse racing under specific regulations, but has not specifically legislated on online gambling, leaving its legal status open to interpretation.

The diverse legal landscape across Indian states reflects a complex interplay between cultural values, economic considerations, and legal frameworks governing gambling. While some states have embraced a more liberal approach, others maintain strict prohibitions, creating a mosaic of regulations that challenge the uniformity of gambling laws across the nation. As the digital age advances, the call for updated and harmonized regulations becomes increasingly urgent, posing a significant challenge for policymakers and stakeholders in navigating the future of gambling in India.

Operational Aspects of Online Gambling

Operational aspects of online gambling in India are complex due to the varying legal status across different states. For instance, states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh prohibit all real-money online gaming, including skill gaming. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu currently prohibits real-money online rummy and poker but allows games of "mere skill."

Online gambling laws in Sikkim and Nagaland are more permissive. The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act of 2008 allows the issuance of licenses to online gambling operators. Under this legislation, Sikkim has legalized online sports betting, casino games, and poker within its borders. Similarly, Nagaland somewhat embraces online gambling by issuing licenses to operators offering games of skill.

The anonymity of online gambling transactions in India may increase the risk of money laundering and other financial crimes. The anonymous nature of these transactions allows for the easy integration of illicit funds into the gambling ecosystem, making it challenging to track the source and flow of money.

Challenges faced by the Indian online gambling industry include the lack of a central law overseeing its regulation. As a result, legislation varies across states, and operators must navigate the different legal frameworks to ensure compliance. This lack of uniformity may impede the industry's growth and development.

Despite the legal complexities, the online gaming sector in India continues to experience significant growth. In FY 2021, the country had 433 million online gaming users and revenues of Rs 136 billion ($1.6 bn). The number of users is expected to increase to 657 million by 2025, with revenues of Rs 290 billion ($3.5 bn).

In the realm of online gambling in India, the legal framework remains intricate and ambiguous. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is the primary legislation governing the sector but does not explicitly mention online gambling, leaving room for interpretation. Despite the challenges, some progress has been made by the Indian legal system. In 2015, the Supreme Court of India declared that skill-based games are lawful, providing new opportunities for the gaming industry.

Each state has its own set of gambling laws, with skill-based games often being exempt from regulations. This results in the legality of online gaming being decided on a case-by-case basis, adding complexity to the code. Some states have taken proactive measures to regulate the industry; for instance, the Nagaland Bill sought to maintain integrity in online gaming by introducing a regulatory regime.

It is crucial for businesses operating in the Indian online gaming sector to navigate the current laws and regulations diligently. The legal status of online gambling in India can heavily impact business operations and future growth. As the industry continues to develop, the government is expected to introduce comprehensive and precise legislation to ensure a well-regulated environment for businesses and consumers.

In India, the enforcement of online gambling laws differs among states. The Public Gambling Act of 1867 is the primary legislation governing gambling, although it does not distinctly mention online gambling. Violating this Act's provisions can lead to a fine of up to ₹200 or imprisonment for up to 3 months. However, some states, like Nagaland, have specific licensing regimes that differ from the federal legislation.

One of the major legal consequences for individuals caught participating in illegal online gambling activities is the prohibition on visiting gambling houses. Penalties for these offenses may include fines and imprisonment. In recent years, there have been instances where people were arrested for participating in such activities, indicating that authorities are serious about enforcing these laws.

Despite the prohibition efforts and legal consequences, there have been instances where bans on certain online games were challenged. For example, Tamil Nadu's ban on certain online games was revoked by the Madras High Court in 2023. This decision demonstrates that the legality of online gambling in India remains a gray area, with ongoing debates and regulatory changes.

Impact and Future Outlook

The impact of new online gambling regulations in India is currently being observed as the implementation process continues. With the Information Technology Ministry deferring plans to establish a Self-Regulatory Body (SRB) for the gaming sector, stakeholders are working towards a consensus on the matter. This period of uncertainty may affect the growth trajectory and market dynamics of the online gaming industry.

India's online gaming market, in comparison to other countries like Canada, has witnessed significant growth in recent years, with revenues reaching $1.6 billion in FY 2021 and a projected user base of 657 million by 2025. However, the industry's future outlook might be influenced by the impending establishment of an SRB and the adaptation of businesses to new regulations. Stringent regulations stimulate innovations in gaming formats, focusing more on skill-based games than chance-based games.

Moreover, addressing taxation complexities is a crucial concern for stakeholders, as highlighted by a white paper on gaming laws. Proper tax frameworks can contribute to revenue generation for the government while providing a clear direction for gaming businesses to prosper. As a result, online gaming in India could achieve a balance between healthy business models and legal compliance.

Additionally, proposed regulations have the potential to address social concerns related to online gambling, including underage gambling and addiction problems. Stringent identification and verification procedures could help protect minors from accessing gambling platforms. Furthermore, regulated online gaming environments might empower responsible gaming habits among users, alleviating addiction and harmful behaviors.