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The law relating to online gambling in India has to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. At the outset, gambling, but 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 traditional gaming centres as in lots of other countries, barring the state of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular type of gambling.
Though gambling is not illegal, this can be a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal and also the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, therefore that the state governments have the authority to enact laws as a way 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. While 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 cost for to be able to win a prize’. The dominant component of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A casino game could be deemed to be gambling if the part 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 could however be pointed out that hawaii government run lotteries make significant contributions to hawaii 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 GENERAL PUBLIC Gaming Act, 1867
This Act provides punishment for public gambling and for keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. This Act also authorises hawaii governments to enact laws to regulate public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have been amended relative to their policy on gambling. However, this legislation doesn’t have any direct effect on online gambling unless a wide interpretation is given to this is of common gaming house in order to include virtual forums as well.
The Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA)
The ICA is really a codified umbrella legislation that governs all commercial contracts in India. Beneath the ICA, a wagering contract is the one which cannot be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements through wager are void, no suit shall be brought for recovering anything purported to be won on any wager or entrusted to anybody to abide by the result 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 therefore void and unenforceable. While a wagering contract isn’t illegal, it can’t be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts won’t 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, the state governments have been authorized to market as well as prohibit lotteries within their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also offers the manner where the lotteries are to be conducted and prescribes punishment in case of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by hawaii have already 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 the State Government, will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
And whoever publishes any proposal to cover any sum, or to deliver any goods, or 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 virtually any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which might extend to one thousand rupees.
The law linked to gambling can be applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are believed to be wagering contracts in fact it is not possible to enforce such contracts under the ICA, detailed above.