Millions of people residing in India engage in some form of gambling and many enjoy playing top casino games from the comforts of home. With the recent coronavirus pandemic, many people have been left at home, looking for ways to fill their time. The result has been a massive increase in the number of people playing casino games from home or on a smartphone. The problem is that gambling laws in India are confusing and are in need of updating.

Gaming in India is regulated by individual states and at this time, it is outlawed by all areas except four: Nagaland, Daman, Goa, and Sikkim. Even in these areas, there are problems with regulations. In Nagaland, the laws outlaw every game that is one of chance, but allows games of skill Ike Poker and Blackjack. In Sikkim, online gambling was legalised in 2010 and many operators applied for licenses, including Betfair and William Hill. Three companies were licensed, but none ever launched in the state. The only online site currently operating in Sikkim is PlayWin, offering online lottery sales.

Benefits of Legalising Online Casinos

By regulating online gambling in India, there could be many great benefits. While Indian lawmakers have a strong stance against online gambling at this time, having stern laws imposed is not the best way to go about things. By offering a single legislation that covers online gambling on the entire country. It would be easy to regulate and license games of skill. Laws could further be supported by additional legislation that would be created by gaming bodies.

With so many Indian gamblers accessing offshore sites India is losing out on a ton of possible revenue. By legalising online gambling that money would stay in the country and benefit residents, local governments, and the education system. At this time, India is losing out on over $140 million each year to offshore casinos.

The current growth behind the online gambling market in India is driven by middle-class communities along with the development of enhanced technology. With 560 million internet users in India, it would make sense to legalise online gambling and take advantage of the revenue that could be generated. Legalisation would also create more jobs within the iGaming and e-Commerce sectors. This would boost the economy and result in many start-up companies.

Skill Games and a Central Law

Online skill gaming in India is very popular and there have been many conversations between lawmakers about legalising these games. In terms of public opinion, there are mixed feelings about legalising online gambling. However, the legalisation of these games would provide investment opportunities for those looking to get in on a growing market in India. The size of the online gaming market in the country is already valued at over $88 million and is expected to increase by 40% or more in the next year.

There is a great need for a central legislation that would regulate online skill games and provide operators with licenses. The central law could identify what games are considered games of skill, set a specific standard for operators, and enforce player protective measures. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the Central Government will enact any legislation in the near future. The government strongly believes that online gambling has negative effects and does not support it on any level.

Individual States Still Moving Forward

Even though there are no signs of central laws being offered to regulate online gambling, certain states in India are moving forward with their own laws and legislations. There have been promising developments in some states. Maharashtra is currently thinking about regulating online betting to mobilise tax revenue for the state. It is not known whether the new law will encompass online games of skill or will also include games of chance. 

Some High Courts in certain states have been talking about regulating online activities. The High Court of Madras understands the need for regulations that govern online games and is looking to start working in passing laws that would provide a regulatory framework. The court pointed out that regulation would lead to advancements in the technology field as well as generate revenue and improve employment opportunities. Regulations would also better protect vulnerable members of society. The court urged the state government to make note of current situations and to enact suitable legislation that would license operators to provide online games. While some movement has been made in individual states, it will still be some time before any online gambling is regulated. As for a complete country law, we do not expect to see that any time soon. Government officials are still against online gambling and hold tight to the idea that it is bad for Indian youth and can lead to many problems, including gambling addictions.

Also read | How to gamble online in a responsible way in India

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