Is Cricket Betting Legal in India?

Cricket betting in India operates within a legal grey area, with varying regulations across states. While some states allow specific forms of gambling, others enforce a complete prohibition.

Is Cricket Betting Legal in India?
Dillip Mohanty

Written by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Fact checked by: Subhayan Dutta

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-04-04

Cricket isn't merely a sport but is revered as a religion in the Indian subcontinent. In India, it has become a way of life. The magical World Cup win in 1983 sparked widespread interest among the public in the game, an enthusiasm that has not waned even after more than 40 years. The 1983 World Cup not only cultivated a fan base for the sport but also ignited a positive transformation in the country's sports economy. The BCCI has never looked back since selling its broadcast rights in the 90s.

Introduction to Betting

Betting is a type of gambling activity in which a person or a group of people make a prediction of an outcome and stake money on it. The person or the group must correctly predict the outcome to win money. In a sport like cricket, every delivery and whatever happens before and after the delivery is an event. The coin toss which usually takes place at least 30 minutes before the start of play is an event that can be predicted and bet on too. With the immense popularity of the sport in India, it was imminent that the betting world would enter the market sooner or later.

Betting vs Game of Skill

A game of skill is a game where the outcome is mainly determined by skill rather than chance. A game of skill is when a player invests her time in learning, practising and refining her skill to perform in a particular game. The Supreme Court of India noted that a game of skill would be where: Success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player.

Fantasy Gaming in cricket currently falls in the game of skill category where users create teams based on their cricket knowledge. Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu (1996), State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana and Others (1968), and Geeta Rani v. State of Delhi (1997) are some of the landmark judgements have established the distinction between games of skill and games of chance.

While fantasy gaming involves skill, requiring players to utilize their knowledge, research, and focus, betting on outcomes like which captain will win the toss or the result of the next delivery is considered a game of chance. This is the fundamental difference between fantasy gaming and betting.

The Government of India Act, of 1935 specifies betting and gambling as a state subject, allowing states to enact their regulations in this area. Each state has the authority to create its gambling laws. Some states, like Sikkim and Goa, have legalised certain forms of gambling, while others strictly prohibit it. While most Indian states permit the distinction between skill and chance, there are a few states that do not:

Casinos and other games of chance are legal in Goa, Daman, and Diu under the 1976 Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act. With the addition of Section 13A as a result of 1992 and 1996 Act amendments, the state is now allowing games of ‘electronic amusement/slot machines in Five Star Hotels’ and ‘such table games and gaming on board in vessels offshore as may be notified’.

The Sikkim Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 2002, allows for the granting of licences for the establishment of casinos in the state. However, the locals of Sikkim are forbidden from playing in these casinos as a part of a 2016 notification. However, a 2015 amendment to the Act limits these games to the actual gaming parlour premises via intranet gaming terminals within the geographical boundaries of the state.

Assam's Game and Betting Act of 1970 and Orissa's Orissa (Prevention Of) Gambling Act of 1955 both forbid any game for money or other stake, including skill-based games for stakes.

Telangana's Telangana Gaming Act of 1974, which was amended in 2017, prohibits any risking of money on an uncertain event, including games of skill.

The states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu took steps in 2021 towards a complete ban on online gaming. This is seen as a solution by both states to the growing gambling issues in their respective regions. The amendments that forbid online gaming had to be repealed by the High Courts because they viewed them as being unconstitutional. According to the Karnataka High Court, the legislative action governing online skill games violates Article 14 of the Constitution because it is manifestly arbitrary.

Is betting allowed in India?

In conclusion, it can be learned that India is in a tricky situation regarding gambling. In some states, it is completely illegal and banned as a punishable offence. In other states, offshore betting companies can offer Indians to get involved in betting activities with Indian rupees offered as payment methods. In 2022, the Indian Government decided to replace the 1867 bill but no other action has been taken since then regarding the same.

Betting in India, especially in cricket has increased to huge numbers. A lot of cricket tournaments get attention and sponsorship from offshore betting companies who promote themselves with on-ground activations and presence on player jerseys, gear etc. A strong anti-corruption code with some strict rules shall make way for a new gambling law in the country which shall then bring clarity on the subject. Offshore betting sites offering Indians the chance to gamble are increasing day by day and openly advertising online on various mediums such as social media websites, news websites, cricket or other sports-based apps and websites, etc.

A new law must be introduced as soon as possible and it will help tackle problems such as gambling addictions, foul play in games, money laundering, and other illegal activities. With the growing gambling industry in the country thanks to offshore clients, if betting becomes legal in India, the way it has been growing it can generate good revenue for the government in the forms of taxes and will generate employment opportunities as well.

Many betting companies have found a major solution to get into the Indian market thanks to the internet. The only law for gambling in India was drawn way back in 1867, almost 100 years before the
internet was invented. There hasn’t been any other law in the nation regarding online or offline gambling, hence making betting available for online users. With cheap and accessible internet, the
companies operating outside Indian shores have easily penetrated the audience.

The Indian government has made it tough for betting companies to advertise with a majority of such companies registered outside the Indian jurisdiction using different names such as news websites etc. to promote themselves.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) issued an advisory warning celebrities on 7th March 2024, against endorsing illegal betting and gambling.

“Betting and gambling are strictly prohibited under the Public Gambling Act, 1867, and are considered illegal in the majority of regions across the country. Despite this, online betting platforms and apps persist in advertising betting and gambling directly, as well as under the guise of gaming," CCPA said.

Conclusion

There is still legal ambiguity around sports betting in India. While some states outright forbid it, others permit it. Regarding this, the national government has not made a firm decision. The Law Commission of India recommends legalising and overseeing betting on sports to reduce illicit activity and increase income. Until official legislation is passed, people and organisations that participate in or support sports betting in India should exercise caution.

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.

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