India’s Attitude to Online Gaming
Is it legal?
The online gaming industry across India is growing at an extraordinary rate. As of 2021, the industry is valued at around $900 million. But projections estimate its value will rise to a phenomenal $112 billion by 2025. This would suggest an overhaul of existing online gaming regulations is required, especially for online gambling activities.
The increased interest in online gaming in India has been attributed to multiple factors, not least having one of the youngest populations in the world. When youth and online gaming typically marry hand in hand, it’s easy to see why the country is becoming a hotbed for gaming. Other reasons for the uprising in gaming are widespread internet access and around 750 million residents owning smartphones.
Online casinos in India
The online gambling industry is one piece of the online gaming pie that is becoming more popular. Accessibility is one of the reasons for this, but another is that game developers are now creating casino games that merge classic games with Indian culture. For example, a Hindi version of crowd-favourite roulette can be found at some of the best sites, and local Rummy games are being revolutionised online, making some games more appealing than ever before.
But, is online gambling even legal?
There is no straight answer to whether online gambling is legal in India, and it is somewhat of a grey area. The country is divided into 27 autonomous states, each with jurisdiction over its own online gaming laws, and therefore different rules apply across the country. Sometimes a distinction is made between games of luck and skill.
At a national level, three pieces of legislation govern online gambling despite some of them being written before online casino websites existed. They were enacted in 1867, 1955 and 2000.
The Public Gaming Act 1867 states that gambling is illegal, although the internet had not even been invented at this time. Whereas The Prize Competition Act 1955 states that competitions are unlawful when the winnings of those competitions exceed a prize pool of 1,000 Rupees each month. However, the Information Technology Act 2000 does not explicitly state that online gambling is illegal.
Online gambling regulations overhaul needed.
The current state of play regarding online gambling legislation is considered dangerous to the Indian economy. The nation clearly has a thriving market for online gambling, and local casino sites could generate large amounts of taxation for the country. By legalising online casinos, the economy would also benefit from hundreds if not thousands of new jobs – and more tax for the government.
In the same breath, it will prevent Indian residents and citizens from choosing to play at illegal casino sites or underground casinos where there are more significant risks to their safety and money. Moreover, it would stop them from being lured towards legal overseas casinos, which contribute to the successes of other countries with thriving gaming industries. In a nutshell, India may be missing a trick in its own backyard.