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The law relating to online gambling in India needs to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. First, gambling, although not absolutely prohibited in India, will not receive express encouragement by policy makers. The Indian organized gambling industry is estimated to be worth around US$8 billion. While stringent laws have checked the proliferation of casinos and high street gaming centres as in lots of other countries, barring hawaii of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular form of gambling.
Though gambling isn’t illegal, this can be a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is really a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal in addition to the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, this implies that hawaii governments have the authority to enact laws so as to regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the complete country. Different states have different laws governing gambling as well as the laws that have an application across the country. Although some states have banned lotteries, other states allow state government lotteries marketed and distributed in other lottery playing and promoting states through private entities.
Regulation of gambling
The courts have defined gambling as ‘the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize’. The dominant element of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A casino game could be deemed to be gambling if the element of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. Because of this, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games aren’t gambling. The right to attempt the business enterprise of gambling and lotteries isn’t considered as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India. It could however be remarked that hawaii government run lotteries make significant contributions to the state exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and hence there is a resistance to complete prohibition.
The next legislation is pertinent to gambling:
The Public Gaming Act, 1867
This Act provides punishment for public gambling and for keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. This Act also authorises the state governments to enact laws to regulate public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have been amended in accordance with their policy on gambling. However, this legislation does not have any direct effect on online gambling unless a broad interpretation is given to the definition of common gaming house to be able to include virtual forums aswell.
The Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA)
The ICA is a codified umbrella legislation that governs all commercial contracts in India. Under the ICA, a wagering contract is the one which cannot be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements by way of wager are void, no suit shall be brought for recovering anything purported to be won on any wager or entrusted to any person to abide by the result of any game or other uncertain event which any wager is made’. Gambling, lottery and prize games have held to be wagering contracts and therefore void and unenforceable. While a wagering contract is not illegal, it cannot be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts will not entertain any reason behind action that arises out of a wagering contract.
Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998
This Act offers a framework for organizing lotteries in the country. Under this Act, hawaii governments have been authorized to market in addition to prohibit lotteries within their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also provides for the manner in which the lotteries should be conducted and prescribes punishment in case of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by hawaii have been made an offence beneath the Indian Penal Code. Several non-lottery playing states, like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, have prohibited the sale of other state-government lotteries under this Act.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Section 294A handles keeping lottery office. It says that whoever keeps any office or place for the purpose of drawing any lottery not being truly a State lottery or a lottery authorised by hawaii Government, will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which might extend to half a year, or with fine, or with both.
And whoever publishes any proposal to cover any sum, or even to deliver any goods, or even to do or forbear doing anything for the advantage of anybody, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which might extend to 1 thousand rupees.
The law related to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are believed to be wagering contracts and it is not possible to enforce such contracts beneath the ICA, detailed above.