Online Betting in India: Latest on Legislation Discussions

India’s online gaming industry was estimated to be valued at around 79 billion INR in 2021, and this was quite a huge leap from its value in the previous year which was at 65 billion INR.

Without a doubt, online gaming including real money betting on cricket betting apps has been rapidly growing in the country. 

Its quick growth is enough to call the attention of certain local governments to implement regulations or ban to combat the risks that come with the said activities. That said, it’s becoming harder to decipher whether online gaming and gambling will be regulated in India or prohibited instead.

In this article, let’s take a look at the latest updates on the legislation of online betting in India and what’s ahead.

Current Legislations on Online Betting

Today, gambling in India is still regulated with the Public Gaming Act 1867. Since this is a law passed by the British Indians back in the day about the growing gambling culture of Indians, it has no mention of anything online.

This is why online gambling including sports betting is in the gray area in most parts of the country. However, each state can decide whether online gambling activities will be regulated or not within their territories.

So far, the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have already banned online gambling. Indians who get caught breaking the new rules will be fined or be imprisoned for up to 1 year.

It looks like more states will follow Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been pushing for an online gambling ban since last year.

Both states already initiated a blanket ban on online gaming last year but the new ordinances were eventually overturned by the High Courts. The main reason behind the High Court decisions is that such amendments are unconstitutional.

“The Amendment Act is discriminatory and violative of the Right to Equality under Article 14 as it doesn’t recognize the intelligible differentia between “game of skill” and “games of chance.”

“It’s the most crucial aspect of the amendment act,” the bench that struck down the Karnataka governance explained.

There were also organizations that challenged what Karnataka and Tamil Nadu attempted to implement like the All India Gaming Federation or the AIGF. They are one of the groups that filed petitions on the Karnataka amendment last year.

Roland Landers, the CEO of AIGF, explained why they are against this move of the local government.

“As the apex industry body, we have notified our member companies to block Karnataka in accordance with the law. Needless to say this burgeoning sunrise industry — our legitimate online skill gaming businesses, game developers and publishers — will be impacted.

Several pro gamers’ livelihoods will also be negatively impacted. We must remember that the Madras HC had recently struck down a similar act that tried to stop online skill gaming in the state,” Landers explained.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are actually coming from a good place when it comes to why they are pushing for an online gaming ban. 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin recently spoke about the rise of suicide rates in the state related to online gambling. 

One of them is a mother based in Vyasarpadi, Chennai who committed suicide after learning that her son is addicted to online rummy and has stolen money from his workplace.

Karnataka is also saying something similar as to why they think a ban should be in place.

Wrapping Up: What’s Ahead

Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are still working on having a legislation that could prohibit online gaming activities involving real money. Tamil Nadu already came up with a new amendment in October last year. However, they are still awaiting the assent from the governor.

Meanwhile, Karnataka already released the first draft of the new ordinance on the online gaming ban in early January. A MeitY official has confirmed that consultations are still open. Stakeholders from the industry are welcome to give feedback and there’s no stopping the process.

The ordinances from these two states were scheduled to be heard by the HIgh Court on February 14, 2023. However,  before the hearing, both online gaming appeals were deleted from the cause list.

This will further delay the possibility of an online gaming ban in both states. The next High Court hearing is on March 3, 2023, but it’s still unclear whether the gaming appeals will be discussed by then.

For now, stakeholders in the industry and online gamblers in the said states can only wait where this will all head.