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India is one of the biggest countries in the world, with a population of more than 1 billion. With such a high populace, it’s no surprise that India has become a major target for gambling companies looking to spread their wings and enter new markets.
The problem is, gambling, and online gambling in particular, is not black and white in India. There are many shades of grey where this popular pastime is concerned and that can make life difficult for online casino owners.
In this guide to online casinos in India we will try to pick apart the rules and regulations to see if we can get to the bottom of this situation and answer questions like:
- Are Online Casinos Legal in India?
- Can I Gamble in India?
- Are Indians Allowed to Gamble?
- Will I Be Prosecuted for Gambling in India?
- What are the Best Indian Casinos?
- How Can I Deposit into an Online India Casino?
- How Can I Withdraw from an Online India Casino?
Is Gambling Legal in India?
Indian gambling laws suffer from some of the same issues as Canadian gambling laws, stemming from the fact that their first modern laws on the subject were drafted in when the country was a colony owned by the British.
Unlike Canada, which got rid of these laws and clarified the issue, India still follows a law that was set way back in 1867. This law prohibits gambling and betting activities, and it was further enhanced by the Indian Information Technology Act of 2000, which prohibits “transmission of corruptible information” including gambling.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are loopholes and there are also states where gambling is legal.
That’s because Indian law works in a similar way to US law in that the country is split into states and each state can make its own rules. Four Indian states have since legalised gambling (Goa, Nagaland, Sikkim, Daman). But most of these states, and all of the other states, do not specifically discuss online gambling.
There is one exception: Sikkim. A number of years ago this Indian state tried to sell online casino licenses that would allow Indian gambling sites to operate legally and freely. They expected a lot of excitement and some big bids, but what they got was the opposite and none of the licenses were sold.
So where does that leave online casinos in India now?
Online Gambling Laws in India
Online gambling is not technically legal in India, but at the same time it is not illegal as it has not been clearly addressed by Indian gambling law.
It puts Indian residents in a similar situation to US residents. They may be able to gamble on certain sites and will likely not face prosecution if they do, but they will face difficulty trying to deposit into these casinos.
Not only will Indian banks not facilitate such transfers, but they will also struggle to make them through web wallets.
How Can Indians Use Online Casinos?
As an Indian player your options are limited when it comes to online casinos. You can not use PayPal, you can not use common debit or credit cards, and a large number of online casinos, from giants like Royal Vegas to Spin Palace and more, will simply not let you sign-up.
Others will though, adopting the attitude that the onus is on the player to determine if they can legally play or not. In such cases, the only issue you face as a player is how to get money into your gambling account.
Many Indian players are turning to Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies to help them with this. Not only are they easy to use and easy to transfer to and from any currency, but they are also quick and completely anonymous.
It may also be possible to use Skrill and Neteller, both of which are available in India and used on thousands of online casinos and other gambling sites.
What Makes a Good India Online Casino?
A good Indian online casino is simply one that doesn’t make it difficult for Indian players to join. Bitcoin casinos that allow players from India to signup can be included in this, but there are many more casinos that deserve a mention.
Some of these are huge names that have taken advantage of the lack of competition to move into the Indian market. It may not be a wealthy country, but there are some very wealthy players and the sheer number of potential players also helps to make it a profitable venture for casinos.
Some of the biggest names to enter the Indian market include Bet365, which is a sportsbook, poker site and bingo site, as well as an online casino; Ladbrokes, which is one of the biggest online gambling sites in Europe; and William Hill.
They are not the only ones either, but they are certainly the biggest ones.
What Makes a Bad India Online Casino?
A bad online India casino would simply be one that doesn’t allow Indians to join, doesn’t make it clear whether they can or cannot join, or lets them join but doesn’t offer them an easy way to make deposits and withdrawals.
In fact, there are casinos out there who adopt an even more negative and even more malicious tactic. They let Indian players signup and deposit, and only when they try to withdraw do they tell them that they cannot facilitate such a transaction.
It’s a dirty tactic and one that isn’t going to give that casino a good reputation, but it’s one that a small number of casinos use, and if it happens to you then you have very little recourse.
Will I be Prosecuted for Playing Online Casinos in India?
No, you will not. Contrary to the scaremongering you may have heard online, it is very rare for any players to be prosecuted for gambling online, even if they do so in a country where online gambling is illegal.
The casinos can certainly be prosecuted for offering services like this to players and the financial organisations can also be prosecuted for facilitating them, but even this is rare, especially in India where online gambling exists in such a grey area.
This is likely not going to change unless the laws are made very clear in the near future. And if the laws governing online gambling are going to get clearer and more specific then it seems likely that they would be in favour of online gambling and not against it.
After all, it would help to generate a lot of revenue for the state and if it also led to offline casinos, sports betting and more, then it would help to increase revenue from tourism as well.