A bet can be put into minutes. Anyone with a credit card can setup an offshore currency account with a gambling site, leaving them free to place bets on sporting events like Wimbledon, cricket, horse racing and Formula One, or join a virtual casino to play slots, roulette, blackjack, poker etc. Companies like Flutter and Betmart accept bets on anything from who is going to win the Nobel Prize to whether Madonna is getting a divorce or not. Bets can range between a nickel to thousands and in accordance with whether you win or lose the amount is automatically adjusted to your account. The final balance can then either be mailed for you or left for future bets.
The law relating to online gambling in India needs to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. First, gambling, but not absolutely prohibited in India, does 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 high street gaming centres as in lots of other countries, barring hawaii of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular form of gambling.
Though gambling is not illegal, this is a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal in addition to the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, therefore that the state governments have the authority to enact laws so as to regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the entire 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 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 price for a chance to win a prize’. The dominant part of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game could be deemed to be gambling if the element of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. Consequently, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and some card games aren’t gambling. The right to undertake the business enterprise of gambling and lotteries isn’t considered as a simple right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be remarked that the state government run lotteries make significant contributions to the state exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and therefore there is a resistance to perform prohibition.
The following legislation is pertinent to gambling:
The 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 does not have any direct effect on online gambling unless a wide interpretation is given to this is of common gaming house so as to include virtual forums aswell.
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 may be the one which can’t be enforced. lido88 lays down; ‘Agreements through wager are void, no suit shall be brought for recovering anything alleged to be won on any wager or entrusted to anybody to abide by the consequence of any game or other uncertain event 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 will not 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 promote along with prohibit lotteries of their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also provides for the manner in which the lotteries are to be conducted and prescribes punishment in case of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by the state have already been made an offence under 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 truly a State lottery or perhaps a lottery authorised by hawaii Government, will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to half a year, or with fine, or with both.
And whoever publishes any proposal to cover any sum, or to deliver any goods, or even to do or forbear doing anything for the benefit of any person, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in any such lottery, will be punished with fine which might extend to 1 thousand rupees.
The law related to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are considered to be wagering contracts and it is extremely hard to enforce such contracts under the ICA, detailed above.