Betting in India by State

Betting in India, whether it be lottery, rummy, poker, horse racing or other forms of sports betting is a controversial subject. The central government of India does have an official stance on gambling, which is that according to laws where the central government has jurisdiction, it finds gambling to be illegal. Gambling is loosely defined as any game of chance, however, the Supreme Court has found that activities like Rummy and Horse Racing are games of skill, and therefore, not considered ‘gambling’ by the National law. Some also argue that poker and other activities are games of skill; however, an official stance has not yet been determined.

The largest caveat here is that where the activity remains within the borders of a give state. According to Entry No. 34 of List II of the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, The individual States have the full right and legitimate authority to make laws with respect to gambling and betting. Furthermore, entry No. 62 confers authority to the States to tax gambling and betting events or activities. Thirteen states have legalized lottery, while the States of Goa and Sikkim have legalized and regulated other forms of gambling.

 

Andhra Pradesh – Population: 84.7 Million

Racecourse:       Hyderabad Racecourse (Malakpet, Andhra Pradesh)

Under the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act of 1974, most forms of gambling are illegal within the State. However, horse racing, rummy and state run lottery is allowed within Andhra Pradesh. There does remain quite a bit of illegal gambling activity. If you search the news, you will find the State come up in several cases of arrest and/or fines, but the fines tend to be small and typically only repeat offenders of those who run gambling houses receive more serious punishment.

Goa – Population: 1.4 Million

Racecourse:       NA

Goa and Sikkim are well known gambling destinations within India. Goa in particular allows land based casinos and casino boats to operate off its shores which have many table games not allowed on the mainland. There are 7 land based casinos and several casino boats in Goa as of October 2011. Gambling within the region is governed largely under the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act of 1976 which states:

26[13A. Authorised Game.– (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Government may authorised any game of electronic amusement/slot machines in Five Star Hotels 27{and such table games and gaming on board in vessels offshore as may be notified} subject to such conditions, including payment of such recurring and non-recurring fees, as may be prescribed.

Karnataka – Population: 61.1 Million

Racecourse:       Bangalore Racecourse, (Bangalore, Karnataka) and Mysore Racecourse (Mysore, Karnataka)

Karnataka used to allow Playwin to operate within the State, but like most States it maintained a ban on single digit lotteries as well as lotteries that draw more than once a week. However, Playwin is no longer allowed to operate within the State.

The State of Karnataka was involved in the landmark case MJ Shivani v. State of Karnataka (1995) where the Supreme Court found that Rummy was not gambling, but a game of skill.

The government of Karnataka has recently become unfriendly to gambling in general, trying to ban or severely limit lotteries, horse racing and other betting activities as early as 2007.

Horse racing was legalized in the 1970’s in Karnataka and its popularity rose quite rapidly since. Even though recent efforts to limit and even get rid of horse race betting in the State have been pursued, the activity remains legal within Karnataka.

Maharashtra – Population: 112.4 Million

Racecourses:     Pune Racecourse (Pune, Maharashtra) and Mumbai/Mahalxmi Racecourse (Mumbai, Maharashtra)

The State of Maharashtra is moderately friendly to betting. Horse betting and lottery are the only forms of legalized betting within the State. Online Gambling is addressed in the State of Maharashtra with the Bombay Wager Act which specifies that it is illegal within the State, however, the authority of the State to make such declarations with regard to online activity has been questioned. Most laws within the State regarding betting focus on running gaming houses.

It was reported in 2008 that Ladbrokes pushed to become a licensed operate a form of legalized online horse betting within the State, but their efforts fell flat.

Under The Lotteries (Regulation) Act of 1998 that allows only State governments to print or authorize lottery sales, Maharashtra authorizes Playwin to operate within the State. Some smaller cities and districts such as Buldana have tried to run their own lotteries, but the State government has taken legal action against them.

The game of Matka, which is similar to lottery, originated within the State of Maharashtra.

Maharashtra is the home of the Wankhede Cricket Stadium, which is said to be the most impressive stadium in India, has hosted the 1987, 1996 and 2011 Cricket World Cup. It is also home to the Mumbai Indians IPL team.

Sikkim – Population: 600k

Racecourse:       NA

Sikkim is the first state to attempt to legalize and license online gambling. It began accepting applications to license online gambling. One stipulation is that the servers reside within the State of Sikkim. The license would include many forms of betting, including betting on cricket, football, rugby, etc.

Playwin is the most popular lottery game in India which is run by the government of Sikkim.

Tamil Nadu – Population: 72.2 Million

Racecourses:     Madras Racecourse (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) and Ooty Racecourse (Ooty, Tamil Nadu)

Gambling has long been a part of the local culture within Tamil Nadu, where cock fighting is a famous pastime. The event usually consists of 3, 20 minute rounds where male chickens (cocks) fight. It is a brutal sport which is very much illegal according to local law. Laws that address the sport are related to both gambling but also animal cruelty.

Other games which are very popular within Tamil Nadu are Rummy and Teen Patti, both of which are very traditional games of India.

Tamil was in the news over its regulation of prize schemes prohibiting companies from giving away prizes as a promotion for the sale of their product. Pepsi Co. was prohibited from operating a recent promotion within Tamil Nadu under the Tamil Nadu Prize Schme Act (1979).

Tamil Nadu also hosts two race tracks, Madras Racecourse (Guindy Racecourse) and Ooty Racecourse.

Madras is the oldest racecourse in India, built in 1777. It has an interesting history with some turbulence during the first 100 years. The club was restored in 1887 and has seen racing events throughout the 20th century till present day. Race season at Madras is between November and March. Major event: Hyderabad Race Club Cup.

The Ooty Racecourse is said to be the most beautiful in India. It is a highland track at an elevation of roughly 2.3 km above sea level. The Main event at Ooty is known as The Nilgiri Gold Cup Race.

Uttar Pradesh – Population: 199.5 Million

Racecourse:       NA

Uttar Pradesh has the largest population among all Indian States. Cricket betting is known to be quite popular even though it is not legal. Illegal betting rings are quite common in Uttar Pradesh. Many argue that legalizing gambling would be the best way to deal with the issue.

The government of Uttar Pradesh has expressed some interest in brining legalized casinos to the State. One proposal back in 2005 was to open a Casino near the Taj Mahal, but nothing has come of it as of now.

West Bengal – Population: 91.3 Million

Racecourse:       Kolkata Race Course (Kolkata, West Bengal)

Gambling is not legal in West Bengal, however, like many States within India, it remains quite popular. Cricket and Football are the primary betting interests in West Bengal.

Summary

Online Poker

Poker’s popularity is on the rise in India, particularly within West Bengal. It has been observed that poker is expressly defined as a game of skill according to the West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act (1957), which means that the legal environment within West Bengal is quite friendly to poker. However, in order to conduct games of skill, it must first be approved by the Police Commissioner of Kolkata or the DM of the respective District.

Online Gambling

It has been argued that these provisions allowing States to regulate gambling only apply to physical betting activities, not online gaming. However, Sikkim is challenging this with the creation of its own licensing process of online gaming companies, which will surely make its way to the Supreme Court. While national law does not address online gambling in particular, laws such as the Public Gambling Act of 1867 do act to discourage the activity. Still, it is acknowledged that online gambling is quite popular within India and enforcement of any laws against online gaming is extremely difficult.

Horse Racing

Horse racing in India is enjoyed in several States. The most notable is the Mahalxmi Racecourse located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Perhaps one of the busiest racecourses is the Delhi Racecourse located in the Territory of Delhi. Indians can place bets on horses at their local racecourse.

Lottery

As stated before, thirteen states have created laws and regulations allowing lottery within their States, including Goa and Maharashtra. Playwin is the primary provider of lottery services authorized by individual States. Players are allowed to make bets at physical locations within Goa and Maharashtra. Many players also play within India at the Playwin website. The legality of which is subject to the laws of the state with which you reside.