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Gambling: a subject for State Legislation

In India, the central law governing gambling is the Public Gambling Act, 1867. It is one of the oldest Acts, as the name suggests. Hence new forms such as online or international gambling are not covered under the Act. Moreover, it is covered under Entry 34 of the State List in the Constitution. Hence, every state has the power to legislate its own laws. The States where it is extensively practiced are Sikkim and Goa. In fact, Goa and Sikkim together make up for almost 90% of all the legal gambling that takes place in the country.

States allowing games of skill:

Some states have gone ahead and regulated the laws relating to gambling, betting, fixing etc.

Goa has made it legal on land and even off-shore, but only for Five Star establishments which have a government permit/license. Such license may be obtained at a very substantial fees under the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976.

The Sikkim Regulation of Gambling (Amendment) Act, 2005 gives the Sikkim Government the authority to authorise with prescribed regulating conditions. This has made Sikkim the second state to facilitate it after Goa. It has become a great tourist attraction.

 In Delhi, under the Delhi Gambling Act, 1955 ‘gaming’ includes all types of wagering or betting except on horserace when such wagering or betting takes place on the day on which such race is to be run and in an enclosure which the stewards controlling such race have with the sanction of the State Government set apart for the purpose, and also does not include a lottery. Where even if a setup for gaming including things like cards, dice, counters, money or other instruments of gaming are found, there will be presumption of gambling until otherwise is proven. Such person shall be liable to imprisonment up to three months and shall also be liable to fine up to hundred rupees.

In West Bengal their Act[1] specifically excludes ‘games of cards like Bridge, Poker, Rummy or Nap’ from its definition of “gaming and gambling” and allows the organization of such games on procuring a permit from the Commissioner of Police in Calcutta or the District Magistrate or the Sub-divisional magistrate when such game is played in any public place.

States prohibiting gambling in any form:

In different states like Assam and Orissa, however, have prohibited any form of betting or gambling. When a license is issued, it is given to a certain entity organizing activity including its organization, management or promotion or negotiation or receipt of bets. As far as licensing in gambling is concerned, there are no separate personal and premises licenses in India.

For more information Gambling Laws in India, please write to us at info@ssrana.com or submit a query.

To know more about Gaming Laws in India, click on the links below:

Gaming & Sports Law in India

Online Gaming in India

Gambling Laws in India

Sports Law in India


[1] THE WEST BENGAL GAMBLING AND PRIZE COMPETITIONS ACT, 1957

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