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The law relating to online gambling in India must 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 traditional gaming centres as in many other countries, barring hawaii of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular type of gambling.
Though gambling isn’t illegal, it is a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is really a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal and also the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, therefore that the state governments have the authority to enact laws to be able to regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the complete country. Different states have different laws governing gambling as well as the laws with 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 element of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game may be deemed to be gambling if the part of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. Subsequently, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games aren’t gambling. The right to attempt the business enterprise of gambling and lotteries is not considered as a simple right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be pointed out that hawaii government run lotteries make significant contributions to hawaii exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and therefore there is a resistance to perform prohibition.
The next legislation is pertinent to gambling:
THE GENERAL PUBLIC Gaming Act, 1867
This Act provides punishment for public gambling and for keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. This Act also authorises the state governments to enact laws to modify public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have already been amended in accordance with their policy on gambling. However, this legislation does not have any direct impact on online gambling unless a broad interpretation is given to the definition of common gaming house so as to include virtual forums as well.
The Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA)
The ICA is 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. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements by way of wager are void, and no suit will 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 is not illegal, it cannot be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts won’t entertain any reason behind action that arises out of a wagering contract.
Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998
This Act provides a framework for organizing lotteries in the country. Under this Act, hawaii governments have been authorized to promote and also prohibit lotteries within their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also provides for the manner in which the lotteries should 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 deals with keeping lottery office. It says that whoever keeps any office or place for the purpose of drawing any lottery not being a State lottery or perhaps a lottery authorised by hawaii Government, will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which might extend to six months, 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 advantage of anybody, 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 may 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 beneath the ICA, detailed above.