Gambling in India

Indians appear to have a love-hate relationship with gambling. Citizens clearly love it – be it because of their entrepreurial bent and general appetite for risk, or perhaps the idea of making a quick buck as is the case with most of the rest of the world. The authorities in India however clearly don’t love it as much. Besides the politics of gambling in India, even the Hindu scriptures warn of the dangers of games of chance through some epic story-telling in the Mahabharata.

As things stand, gambling in India is restricted by law with a few exceptions. Regardless, there is significant illegal gaming throughout the country. The Indian market is estimated to be worth over US$65 Billion and approximately $30 Billion of which is outside the boundaries of the law.

Currently only two states allow for legal gambling – viz. Goa (on the West coast) and Sikkim (in the North-east of India). There are about a dozen casinos in Goa more than half of which are floating casinos based on the Mandovi River. At present there is only one casino in Sikkim. All in all, the casinos are a far cry from the Las Vegas style entertainment extravaganzas.

The legal exceptions in terms of gambling are the Indian lottery and betting on sports – specifically, horse racing. As regulation on the internet is difficult, many online casinos have established a presence on the web in India. Because marketing of casinos is also very restricted however the chances of a browser finding relevant search results in google and the like is slim. Most searches for Indian casinos will yield native American casino reservation websites in the USA.

In a move earlier this year, Sikkim undertook to offer 3 online gambling licences in addition to their Playwin-operated online lottery. This online lottery already accepts players from across India not just Sikkim and it will be interesting to see how the Indian gambling legislation evolves to accommodate cross-state line players participating in the Sikkim online casinos.

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