|Online gambling regulation||None|
|Legislative authority||Parliament of India|
|Percentage of population online||10.07%|
As in many Asian countries, most forms of gambling – including online gambling – remain largely unregulated in India. The only exceptions are what Indian law deems to be ‘games of skill’, such as rummy and horse racing. Additionally, some states operate lotteries which can be entered from across India.
The source of this dates back to colonial times, and this Public Gambling Act of 1867. This prohibits both the operation and visiting of public gambling houses in India. Additionally, the Information Technology Act 2000 prohibits the publication and transmission of information that can corrupt people. However, neither forbids online gambling directly.
The only serious legal attempt to restrict online gambling in India came in May 2011, when India’s central government passed the Federal Information Technology Act 2011. This tasked India’s internet service providers (ISPs) with blocking (among other things) online betting websites.
At best, this law has proven to be ineffective. With thousands of betting websites out there, critics of the act argue that in practice, it is virtually unenforceable. It has certainly done nothing to prevent online gambling operators from directly targeting the lucrative Indian market. Nor has it deterred Indian gamblers from using these websites.
Although India’s central government has proven unwilling to regulate India’s online gambling market, one state, Sikkim, has been keen to embrace it. In 2009 the state started taking applications for online gambling licenses, with the aim being to issue the licenses in 2010.
Applicants included the likes of Betfair, Ladbrokes and 888. However, uncertainty as to whether Sikkim has the legal authority to issue such licenses has seen the process stall. But with the state already operating its own online lottery, it’s clearly a strong proponent of online gambling regulation.
There can be no doubt that India’s online gambling market, if fully regulated, could be a significant source of tax revenue for the state. Indeed, estimates suggest that at current levels, a fully regulated online gambling market in India could generate as much as $1.5 billion in tax.
Additionally, there have been calls to regulate sports betting, to help get on top of match-fixing and other forms of corruption in India’s most popular sport, cricket.
Nevertheless, Sikkim asides, there seems to be little enthusiasm at a central and state government level to regulated online gambling in India at this time. As a result, it seems unlikely that this will change in the short term.