Exploring the Legality of Betting in India

Like most international sports betting markets (outside of the UK, at least), the regulatory landscape in India is confused, contradictory and largely unfit for purpose.
As with all markets of this type, the Indian sports betting space is also the subject of numerous myths and misconceptions, creating a scenario where locals are unsure of their position and whether they’re legally permitted to wager or not.

With this in mind, we thought that it was about time we busted some of these myths wide open, while providing some clarity for players who may be struggling to make sense of India’s gambling laws.

Myth 1 – Players Can be Prosecuted for Gaming Online in India
As the Indian betting market is not currently regulated, it’s technically considered as an illegal entity that prohibits domestic iGaming brands and providers from operating lawfully.
As a result of this, many mistakenly believe that Indians who wager online are punishable by law, whether this translates into some form of custodial sentence or otherwise.
However, there’s nothing in India’s outdated gambling legislation that actively prohibits players from wagering online, making them perfectly free to bet through one of the numerous international brands currently operating on the subcontinent.
It’s important to keep this in mind, especially as it’s a state of affairs that remains relevant in various sports betting markets across the globe.

Myth 2 – You Can Wager Freely Using Credit Cards
In most mature betting markets across the globe, the use of credits is widely accepted and even encouraged (although a ban on this practice is about to be rolled out on April 14th this year in the UK).
However, this is not the case in India, where the vast majority of credit card transactions to and from online betting sites will be automatically blocked.
There’s good reason for this too; as India is home to a vast illegal betting market involving rogue domestic operators, who commonly leverage unsecured credit card transactions to steal unsuspecting punters’ cash.
So, by eschewing this payment method in favour of bank transfers and secure e-wallets, international operators can set themselves apart in a competitive and unregulated market.

Myth 3 – The Law in India is Unlikely to Change in the Future
As we’ve already said, the Indian betting market is largely unregulated, with the only viable piece of existing legislation dating back to 1867 (in the form of the Public Gambling Act).
It has been argued that the status quo is likely to remain unchanged in the future, but this ignores the fact that a new betting bill was proposed and initially discussed in July 2018.
While minimal progress has been made in progressing this in the 18 months since, there’s no doubt that the Indian government is committed to regulating the marketplace and creating a viable framework in which domestic operators can compete with their international counterparts.
This is great news for players going forward, and for a nation that’s home to an estimated 183 million sports bettors!

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