A bet can be placed in minutes. Anyone with credit cards can setup an offshore currency account with a gambling site, leaving them absolve to place bets on sports like Wimbledon, cricket, horse racing and Formula One, or join a virtual casino to play slots, roulette, blackjack, poker etc. Companies like Flutter and Betmart accept bets on anything from who’s going to win the Nobel Prize to whether Madonna is getting a divorce or not. Bets can range from a nickel to thousands of dollars and according to whether you win or lose the total amount is automatically adjusted to your account. The final balance can then either be mailed to you or left for future bets.
The law associated with online gambling in India has to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. At the outset, 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 many other countries, barring the state of Goa, the lottery business remains probably the most post popular form of gambling.
Though gambling is not illegal, it is just 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 as well as the state levels. Gambling slot69 in List II of the Constitution of India, this implies that the state governments have the authority to enact laws so that you can regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the entire country. Different states have different laws governing gambling in addition to the laws with an application across the country. Although some states have banned lotteries, other states allow state 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 to be able to win a prize’. The dominant part of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game may be deemed to be gambling if the component of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. Consequently, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games are not gambling. The right to undertake the business enterprise of gambling and lotteries is not considered as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be pointed out that the state government run lotteries make significant contributions to hawaii exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and hence there is a resistance to perform prohibition.
The following 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 within 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 impact on online gambling unless a wide interpretation is given to this is of common gaming house so as 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 can’t be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements through wager are void, and no suit shall be brought for recovering anything purported to be won on any wager or entrusted to anybody to abide by the consequence of any game or other uncertain event on which any wager is made’. Gambling, lottery and prize games have held to be wagering contracts and thus 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 cause of 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 where the lotteries are to be conducted and prescribes punishment in the event 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 a State lottery or perhaps a lottery authorised by hawaii Government, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to half a year, or with fine, or with both.
And whoever publishes any proposal to cover any sum, or to deliver any goods, or even to do or forbear doing anything for the advantage of any person, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in virtually any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which might extend to 1 thousand rupees.
The law linked to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are considered to be wagering contracts and it is not possible to enforce such contracts under the ICA, detailed above.