Gambling is a quintessential thrill that has been enticing people since times unknown. Indian mythological epic `Mahabharata´ has a mention of gambling, which forms the trigger of the great war. Traditional gambling games like Teen Patti are still played in large parts of India, right from the smallest hamlets to a modern metropolis.
However, gambling has been viewed as a vice, that is best avoided. The majority of the states in India have declared offline casinos as illegal, barring a few like Sikkim and Goa. This has led to a steady rise in the popularity of online casino games in India.
Gambling in modern India
The first law banning gambling in India was passed by the British in 1867, completely outlawing gambling in India. And since then, there have been no amendments to this law and is still in force in the majority of states in post-independence India. However, a few states have some local legislation which allow for legalized gambling.
Online gambling in India
Since there was no concept of online gambling back in 1867, there is no mention of regulation regarding the same in the original law, and the subsequent governments of independent India have not done any amendment in the original law to include online casinos.
Thus, online casinos remain a grey area, with each state free to frame its own laws for the same. Certain states like Maharashtra have completely banned any type of gambling, be it online or offline, inside the state.
A number of websites and apps have come up, allowing users to gamble in a virtual casino, on all types of gambling games like roulette, poker, and blackjack. Some sites also have traditional games like Teen Patti, Andar Bahar, and rummy, giving the users a large palette to choose a gambling game of their choice.
Patrons need to pay an online fee, which is converted to virtual chips, and the player can start playing immediately against other online players, from the comfort of their home.
With the high penetration of smartphones and high-speed internet in India, it is easy for anyone to join an online casino site of their choice, and play anonymously, and is a boon for those fearing social stigma associated with gambling.
Can I be arrested for playing in an online casino in India?
As mentioned earlier, online gambling remains a grey area in the federal Indian law, and there is currently no central law prohibiting online gambling. So unless you are staying in a state which expressly bans online gambling, you can safely gamble in an online casino of your choice, without having the fear of breaking any law.
However, under the FEMA law of 1999, it is technically illegal to transfer money to an online casino, which is based overseas, by converting money into foreign currency. But most online sites have the option of paying via digital wallets like Paytm or Mobikwik, in Indian currency.
In conclusion, although technically illegal, Indian players can get their gambling fix online, until the central government comes up with strong legislation expressly declaring online casinos as illegal.