A bet can be placed in minutes. Anyone with a credit card can setup an offshore currency account with a gambling site, leaving them free to place bets on sporting events like Wimbledon, cricket, horse racing and Formula One, or join a virtual casino to play slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker etc. Companies like Flutter and Betmart accept bets on anything from who is likely to win the Nobel Prize to whether Madonna is getting a divorce or not. Bets can range from a nickel to thousands of dollars and in accordance with whether you win or lose the total amount is automatically adjusted back. The final balance may then either be mailed for you or left for future bets.
The law associated with online gambling in India must be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. At the outset, gambling, but not absolutely prohibited in India, will 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 the state of Goa, the lottery business remains probably the most post popular type of gambling.
Though gambling isn’t illegal, this can be a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal as well as the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, therefore that the state governments have the authority to enact laws as a way 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 in addition to the laws with an application across the country. Although 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 component of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game could be deemed to be gambling if the element of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. Therefore, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games aren’t gambling. The right to undertake the business of gambling and lotteries is not considered as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be pointed out that the state government run lotteries make significant contributions to the state exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and therefore there is a resistance to complete 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 regulate public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have already been amended relative to their policy on gambling. However, this legislation does not have any direct effect on online gambling unless a broad interpretation is given to this is of common gaming house in order 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. Under the ICA, a wagering contract is the one which cannot be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements by way of wager are void, no suit will be brought for recovering anything purported to be won on any wager or entrusted to any person 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 isn’t illegal, it can’t be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts will not entertain any cause of action that arises out of a wagering contract.
Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998
This Act provides a framework for organizing lotteries in the united kingdom. Under this Act, hawaii governments have been authorized to promote and prohibit lotteries of their territorial jurisdiction. lido88 provides for the manner where the lotteries should be conducted and prescribes punishment in the event of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by hawaii have already been made an offence beneath 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 truly a State lottery or perhaps a lottery authorised by the State Government, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which might extend to half a year, or with fine, or with both.
And whoever publishes any proposal to pay any sum, or to deliver any goods, or even to do or forbear doing anything for the benefit of anybody, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which might extend to 1 thousand rupees.
The law linked to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are believed to be wagering contracts and it is extremely hard to enforce such contracts beneath the ICA, detailed above.