Is Gambling Legal in India?

gambling

We reside in a society where the source of entertainment other than movies, hangouts, etc. are also includes playing games through the online or offline source. Every game which is available online or offline has certain terms and conditions which sometimes land an individual into an illegal activity like gambling. However, gambling and betting in history was a very frequent mode of entertainment and the purpose of this activity has evolved with time.

In India gambling is considered an illegal activity where a person is wholly depending on his luck by betting a certain amount in games, sports, poker or in other activity. As per the India Contract Act, 1872 if any loss is incurred by performing parties the court of law will not entertain such pleas for recovery amount. It is crime under section 294A of IPC and will punishable with a fine of rupees 1000 and imprisonment of 6 months.

What do you mean by gambling?

As per the Cambridge dictionary, gambling is the activity of betting money. For instance, in a game or in a horse race.

Is there any legal remedy available for gambling?

As per section 30 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 wager contract is void and any action against wager contract is not maintainable under the court of law. The only exception is that if any amount which is won or promised to be paid in future above the value of rupees 500 in case of horse-race then it will be maintainable under the court of law.

However there is no specific definition but in Carlill vs Carbolic smoke ball co, 1892 the expression wager is defined, “A wagering contract is one by which two persons, professing to hold opposite views touching the issue of a future uncertain event, mutually agree that, dependent on the determination of that event, one shall win from the other, and that other shall pay or hand over to him, a sum of money or other stakes; neither of the parties having any other interest in that contract than the sum or stake he will so win or lose, there is no other consideration for making of such contract by either of the parties. If either of the parties may win but cannot lose, or may lose but cannot win, it is not a wagering contract.”

Why a wagering contract is made illegal in India?

The court in Subhash Kumar Manwani vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2000 MP 109 judged that an agreement which is performed through an act of wager is void because the law discourages people to enter into games of chance and make earning by trying their luck instead of spending their time, energy, and labour for more fruitful and useful work for themselves.

What are the essentials of the wagering contract?

For performing a wagers contract followings are the essence of the wagering contract:

  • Uncertain Event: The wagering contract is dependent on the happening or not happening of an event. Here the parties depend on the future event where they have entered in the past.
  • Mutual Chances of gain or loss: When a party enters into a wagering contract the main objective of such performance of the agreement is that one party to the contract gains and other losses. However, the chit-fund is not considered under the scope of wager which was judged in the Narayana Ayyangar v. K.V. Ambalam, 1927[i].
  • Neither of the party has control over the event: The performing parties do not have control over winning or losing the bet. It happens without any prior knowledge of the result.
  • No other interest in the event:The interest of the party is basically related to the sum of the amount they kept on stake for winning a larger sum in return.

What is the exception to the wager’s contract?

  • Horse racing: when any participant bets money for a prize or winning above rupees 500, this will not be considered void as per section 30 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
  • Crossword competition: any competition which includes any test of skill and on the basis of skill money is involved, then such activity will not be considered void. 

Why such agreements cannot be enforced in the court of law?

Any agreement entered by two or more parties the subject in which they are entering into should be a legal object and for legal purpose as per section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. However, as per the laws and from section 25 to section 30 of the Act such contracts are considered void and illegal where if any loss is incurred by the parties will not be entertained by the court and will be also a punishable offense.

For instance, when a person is betting a sum of amount on a team in IPL’s will not be considered illegal if he is making an agreement through a legal process that is set by the central and the state government. There are online sites available where any person can bet on a team in sports like kabaddi, football, horse racing, etc.

What are the laws that are governing gambling in the states of India?

The constitution of India confers the state to make their own laws on gambling and betting which is considered as a source of entertainment but not as a source of employment and earning money. This game is being played since the Vedic period. As per the 276th law commission report, 14 states and union territories have enacted laws regarding gambling and betting. The Public Gambling Act, 1867 was adopted by the state legislature which is in the 7th schedule.

The following are the states who have enacted and adopted the law:

1. Andaman and Nicobar

2. Chandigarh

3. Himachal Pradesh

4. Uttarakhand

5. Tripura

6. Mizoram

7. Arunachal Pradesh

8. Dadar and Nagar Haveli

9. Haryana

10. Lakshadeep

11. Punjab

12. Manipur

13. Madhya Pradesh

14. Chattisgarh

And there are other states who have enacted their own laws regarding the same. They are as follows:

1. Maharashtra and Gujarat: The Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, applies to the whole state of Maharashtra and the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960, applies to Gujarat. This Act exempts dog and horse race.

2. Meghalaya:The Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act, 1970 governs the state and exempts the game of archery which is being permitted by the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Act 1982.

3. Rajasthan:The Rajasthan Public Gaming Ordinance, 1949, prohibits the game of skill.

4. Goa, Daman and Diu: The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. The aim of this law is to provide punishment for public gambling and the keeping of common house gaming within the territory of these states[ii].

5. Tamil Nadu:The Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930 and the Tamil Nadu Prize Schemes (Prohibition) Act, 1979 were enacted by the state government for providing punishment for betting and also for prohibiting the promotion or conduct of prize schemes within the State.

6. Sikkim:The Sikkim Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 2002 and the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 was enacted to make the business houses involved in gambling legal and also the 2008 act was the first law which gave permission for online gaming, for instance, Blackjack, Poker, Bingo etc. which involved prediction of the event. But however, by an amendment act of 2015, the online games were restricted within the geographical boundaries of the State.

There are other more states who have enacted their own laws for better regulation of gambling within the boundaries of the respective states.

Conclusion

The laws that are enacted by the Central government is for the betterment of society. Gambling laws were enacted so that any illegal activity cannot get motivated and so is the legal age for entering into betting is above 18years of age. It is made legal with different terms and conditions by the different state governments. It is onto the state government that what kind of games should be permitted within their boundary.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 

Reference

[i]ILR 50 Mad 696.

[ii]http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/Report276.pdf.