Today, India has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and its potential in the Indian gambling market is just beginning to be realized. The online gaming industry is the most popular business segment to which India’s state-level development offers allegiance. What is the basis for such devotion? First, the lack of stringent government regulation of internet gambling results in nearly total freedom of action. Thousands of internet casinos and bookies are currently operational in the country.
What about foreign gambling companies with iGaming licenses? Such as those in Curacao and Malta, who intend to serve the Indian gambling market. The industry’s popularity among citizens who enjoy gambling or wagering on their favorite sports is so appealing. Is this operation legal or even doable in India?
Let’s examine it through the lens of how internet gambling in India is normally controlled.
The online gambling market in India is not as highly controlled as it may be expected. There are no federal laws that limit the online industry in the state. To date, no federal act directly governs the internet gambling sector except for the Supreme Court’s precedent rule on skill-based gambling. Each state has its stance on sports betting. Consequently, online gambling in India is regulated at the state level.
There are only a handful of states in India where iGaming is regulated (or forbidden) by modern, reasonably comprehensible laws. However, even if gambling is only permitted in a handful of states (such as Goa, Daman, and Sikkim), the rest of the nation can still play online casino games and wager on sports.
Except for the states of Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, all gambling laws were enacted before the introduction of the Internet and have not been updated to reflect the new reality of online gaming and gambling. However, there is currently no law that expressly prohibits internet gambling.
And although the Indian Gambling Act of 1867 attempts to prohibit all forms of gambling, it fails to define gambling in general adequately. The definition of iGaming is, of course, beyond the scope of this discussion.
Since 2022, only Goa, Daman, and Sikkim have officially sanctioned online gaming. Sikkim also has an online lottery that accepts wagers from players around India. In addition to Goa, West Bengal, Nagaland, and Sikkim permit online and offline poker play with a government license, allowing casinos to conduct gaming.
Indian gambling market is prohibited from promoting or hosting websites that advertise online gambling, including casinos, sportsbooks, and bingo. However, it is not unlawful for non-Indian casino operators (so-called offshore operators) to target Indian gamers on their websites. The only legal need for offshore casinos is that they accept Indian Rupees as a means of payment for Indian players.
Advertising online gambling in India is a genuine concern for international online operators. Particularly in places where the online gambling sector is prohibited and local online gambling legislation exists. Generally, it is advised not to engage in aggressive advertising.
Doing so may invite excessive scrutiny from local regulators, site banning, etc. The IT and Indian Consumer Protection Legislation restricts deceptive advertising and prohibits content that violates the fundamental laws of India.
Online gambling has become a major topic in India in recent years. The Law Commission of India encouraged the government to legalize internet gambling in July 2018. The commission issued a comprehensive report proposing India legalize gaming to create money for the sector.
The government is attempting to enact a new law regulating gambling to protect individuals from losing money and generate revenue if taxed correctly and legally. The Government of India stated in 2022 its intention to replace the Gaming Act of 1867 with a new gambling law.
In May, the Indian government established an interministerial commission in response to calls for a federal internet gambling law. The commission group comprises members from various government ministries who intend to expand the Indian online gaming business.
Federal movement of a new bill to regulate the internet gambling business in India
The Indian government issued new guidelines to regulate internet gambling in January 2023, establishing several “self-regulatory” entities to supervise the industry.
Regarding internet gambling, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released revisions to its Information Technology Regulations. An online game is any Internet-based game in which the player “deposits with the prospect of winning.”
If required, the Government of India may declare that specific games are subject to the new regulations. The revisions specify that any proposed online game must not contravene current regulations, such as the statewide prohibition on gambling.
Instead of a governmental regulator, the revisions would permit “self-regulatory bodies” comprised of online gaming corporations to establish the regulations for online gambling. The board of such an organization should consist of an eminent independent individual from online gaming, sports, entertainment, or other relevant fields.
An individual who represents online gambling players, an expert in psychology or consumer education public policy, and an individual appointed by the central government of India.
These organizations should establish regulations “to protect consumers from harm,” such as gambling addiction, safeguard youngsters and avoid financial crime. In addition, they should demand members to verify their users, conduct KYC checks, develop a complaints system, and have a contact in India.
If the self-regulatory organization fails to establish adequate standards, the federal government might “order it to take corrective action.” If necessary, it can suspend the authority of such an organization.
Therefore, it is permissible for a foreign online casino to operate in India. It is not against the law for non-Indian casino companies (so-called offshore companies) to target Indian players on their websites.
The only legal requirement is that offshore casinos accept Indian Rupees as a form of payment for Indian players. They must not break laws that govern the sector directly or indirectly.
However, it is possible that before the end of this year, modifications may be made that will provide provisions for regulating online gambling, including international companies.
It needs to be determined whether this will pose any challenges to the Indian Gambling Market current regulatory structure. However, the trend in India toward regulating online gaming remains of interest to the government.