On 4 March 2009, the Government of Sikkim (Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department) issued a memorandum known as the “Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009”. This outlines the rules and regulations for online gambling licensing within their state, and is a follow up attachment to the “Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008”. In this article I’ll breakdown exactly what is included in this document and then cover the amendment where sport betting was added and conclude with additional updates.
At this current time, no Sikkim run online gaming sites are operational due to fear of the land based bookies retaliating. Offshore bookies such as Bet365.com continue to take bets, but do not advertise to India for fear of repercussion from the mob.
Legalizing Specific Games – This act makes Roulette, Black Jack, Pontoon, Punto Banco, Bingo, Casino Brag, Poker, Poker Dice, Baccarat, Chemin-de-for, Backgammon, Keno, and Super Pan 9 legal games for online play. Any operator wishing to offer these games must start with paying a 500 rupee application fee. If their application is approved a one year license will be issued upon receipt of 1 lakh rupees (about $2,000 US) and can be renewed each year for the same price.
Taxes and Bank Guarantee – Operators licensed by the Sikkim Government are assessed a monthly taxes of 1% of the gross gaming yield. This payment is due by the 15th of the following month and if late a 20% penalty will be added. In addition, all operators are required to post a bank guarantee in the amount of 5 crore (about $1 million US) in favour of the government. This is valid for one year, the following year a new guarantee must be posted in the same amount.
Website Requirements – All gambling sites licensed by the Government of Sikkim must display the following information:
- its full name and address of its registered office
- the number of license under which the Online game is conducted
- the date on which the license was originally granted
- a statement that the online game is regulated in Sikkim State
- hyperlink to the websites of the Government and players Anonymous
- one or more hyperlinks to a page or pages setting out.- 1) a summary of the arrangements for registration. 2) a statement that persons under the age of eighteen years are not permitted to register or to participate in the game; and 3) a statement that On-line game debts are enforceable in law in Sikkim.
Advertising Regulations – the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009 has strict laws regarding advertising standards. Every advertisement must contain the sites URL in clear print, it also must not be indecent, offensive, or contain sexual content. It also shall be based only on facts and not contain any false, deceptive or misleading information. The act itself goes on to offer many other redundant rules such as not marketing to underage players, not marketing banned games, and not making any statement about the legality of gaming in any jurisdiction.
Safe, Secure and Fair Games – The final three pages of the of the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009, lays out strict rules and regulations regarding random number generation, security systems, auditing, publishing of house advantage and much more. To read these in full scroll to page 300 of go to sikkim.gov.in.
Sports Betting Added (Legalised)
On 1 August 2009 the State of Skikkim Government posted the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2009, which makes changes to the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Rules, 2009 – which I just covered in the previous section. Some key points of that amendment are as follows:
The words “on-line games and on-line gaming” in all places they occur are changed to read “On-line Gaming and Sport Gaming”. The list of approved casino games is now followed by the words “sport games like football, cricket, lawn tennis, chess, golf, horse-race, and such other sport games which involve prediction of the results of the sporting events and placing a bet on the outcome, in part or in whole, of such sporting event”.
In short, this act made online sports betting in the state of Sikkim legal. However to offer sports betting a gambling license is required under the terms presented in various Acts, amendments and memorandums issued by the Government of Sikkim.
There have been several other modifications to the Act and its amendments which are as follows:
11 June 2009 – The government issued two short memorandums on this date. The first states the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 goes into effect the 1st day of July, 2009. The second states–the State Government hereby appoints Secretary to the Government of Sikkim in the Finance, Revenue and Expenditure.
1 August 2009 – In addition to adding sports betting the Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2009 made several other changes. The one worth noting is the licensing period became 5-years requiring a 5 lakh payment for approved applicants (about $10,000 US).
20 August 2009 – The original Sikkim On-line Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 itself was amended to add Sport Gaming to the text. A separate memorandum was also issued to clarify all gaming laws in order to make it clear sport betting is now legal in the state. Once again however a license is required to offer “sport gaming”.
30 March 2011 – The tax for land based casinos became the greater of either 10% of gross gaming yield or 1crore rupee (about $200,000 US). While it’s unclear if this applies to online gaming sites – Indian media sources have claimed this likely will be the case.
The Current Status of Sikkim Gaming Licenses
In February 2010, media sources claimed the Sikkim Government had issued several letters of intent to potential operators who could use these to get a license upon meeting technical requirements and paying their licensing fee. At the time it was expected cricket betting sites and online casinos would be available within months; but, this never came to be.
To date the only gambling site operating from Sikkim is PlayWin Lotto. However, according to a 23 July 2011 post made by Jay Sayta at glaws.in, 4 provisional licenses have in fact been issued. Once these companies meet the technical requirements, post their required guarantee and pay for the full license, they’ll be able to operate legally from Sikkim. That particular post is titled and can be read by clicking: Sikkim Government clarifies its stand on the online gaming licenses for the first time. I strongly suggest reading this as one interesting line reads:
The officer however added that since subsequent to the issue of the licenses, doubts have been raised as regards to the legality of the licenses, the Sikkim government will “correspond with the Central government” to resolve the issue and seek clarifications.
At this point there is certainly a push for online gambling, but it’s been a rather slow process. Many Indians are staying tuned to Sikkim as this is the best chance to see online casinos, and cricket betting sites online and legal in India in the near future. For other legal information I suggest reading our page Indian Gambling Laws or visiting one of the better blogs on the topic, Glaws.in.