Legality of Betting in India

This article is written by Rishita Naredi, a First-year B.B.A. LL.B. student in NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law.

INTRODUCTION

According to Merriam Webster, betting is an act of giving a pledge, or stake between 2 parties which leads to the formation of a contingent contract. In layman language, it refers to forecasting the future of a particular event. 

People often confuse betting with gambling. But there are some differences which ought to be highlighted. Gambling is wholly based on the concept of probability, permutation, and combination. The outcome ranges from ‘win’ or ‘loss.’ It is also heavily reliant on one’s good fortune and coincidence. A person’s ability is rarely used in the game. On the other hand, Betting is a broad concept. It is a more calculated risk where the parties take into account the circumstances, external forces, etc. 

This article will mainly focus on different aspects of Sports Betting in India.  

Sports Betting

 Nowadays, sports betting in India is growing at a tremendous rate. A large number of individuals want to wager on every sporting event because of the huge profits people make out of winning without much effort. There are many people who bet on sports, ranging from cricket to football to basketball including ice hockey as well as field hockey. Sports betting is further divided into 6 more sub-categories. These are listed below-

Straight Bet

This is the simplest form of a bet. Here, the individuals are supposed to choose an individual or team, which they predict might win or the match will end in a draw. If the said team wins, individuals win the money for correct estimation. 

Pre-Betting

This is relatively an old form. Here, the individuals bet on a team or individuals before the match begins. This is similar to in-play betting, but the individuals are supposed to bet before the game. 

In-play Betting 

This is a revised form of Pre-betting. Here, the individuals bet on a team while the game is still ongoing. This is less risky and less profitable as well. 

Accumulator Betting 

 In this form of betting 2 or more bets are combined to form one single bet known as Accumulator’s bet. For example, a person might bet that England would lose over India, and India will score more than 2400 runs if both the bets are fulfilled the person wins money. 

Single Bet 

It is part of Accumulator’s bet. It refers to one bet a person might go for, Example, RCB will win the next IPL is a single bet. 

Spread Betting 

This is a relatively different concept. Here the person betting on specific sports forecast whether an outcome will be above a particular number or below. This is called Spread betting. For example, a person bets that Brazil will score more or less than 7 goals in the football World cup. 

Legality of Sports Betting  

Laws related to sports betting are very vague and ambiguous in India. This might be because there are no specific international laws related to betting. Each country has a different set of laws for sports betting. 

According to the Indian laws, betting in ‘Games of Luck’ is illegal as it amounts to gambling, and betting on ‘Game of Skill’ is legal. The main issue lies in determining whether a game is of luck or skill. Fantasy sports are legal according to the laws of India because it involves ‘Game of Skill’ where the opponent is a human being, who can be analyzed. Most states allow betting on games such as horse race betting and card games which are based on players’ skills rather than fortune. On the other hand, traditional betting is not legal in India, but has its acceptance in many other countries like Australia, Western Europe, and even the US. 

According to the Indian provisions Public Gambling Act, 1867 and Technology Act, 2000 apply to the majority of India. Sports betting is prohibited by such rules, but individual states have the authority to enact their legislation. All forms of gambling are illegal in India, according to the Public Gambling Act (1867).  

There are no specific laws for online betting which encourage people to bet illegally online. Many betting websites work freely making it accessible to every individual. While bookmarks are illegal in India, there is no law prohibiting an individual customer from placing an online bet with a bookmark based outside the country. 

Online Betting

With the technology up-gradation around the world, including India, more than 5 million people are connected with the internet. This has made the online websites more accessible which were earlier not even known by many. One of the most visited websites is online betting. According to a study, more than 40% of the internet users in India gamble, and reports further point that India may soon surpass the United Kingdom in terms of gamblers per capita. 

Online betting usually involves placing a bet through the internet and earning money thereafter. All the transactions take place in a virtual environment. Some of the online games are Rummy, Three-card games, etc. 

Legality of Online Betting

No laws are governing Online betting in India, still there are some provisions in laws that help the judges to decide the legality of betting on a game-to-game basis. For example, games like Three-card are purely based on luck. On the other hand, Rummy cannot be categorized as a game of chance. This is because rummy requires players to have a certain level of ability, particularly when it comes to memorizing. While bookmarks are illegal in India, there is no law prohibiting an individual customer from placing an online bet with a bookmark based outside the country. 

Several state governments have banned online gambling applications, including those in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab. The Government of Sikkim released the Sikkim Online Gaming Rules, 2009 as a memorandum. 

CONCLUSION 

 In India, there is no clear law that governs gambling and betting. To protect the public from the negative effects of these activities and to improve transparency, proper legislation governing gambling and betting activities is required. The IT Act, 2000 which governs cyber operations in India, does not include “gambling” or “betting”, so it is up to the courts to define and interpret the laws and give judgments accordingly. The allure and dignity of sports must be protected at all costs and so there is a need for more specific laws governing betting in India. 

REFERENCES 

  1. https://www.asianfortunenews.com/2015/06/understanding-the-basic-distinction-between-gambling-and-betting/ 
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bet
  3. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3111-sports-betting-and-laws-relating-to-it.html
  4. https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/online-gambling-apps-in-india-is-it-legal-to-play-details-here

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