As the world’s second most populous country, with some 1.2 billion residents, the gambling and roulette market in India is potentially huge.
However, for casino operators to claim a piece of that pie, gambling needs to be legal in the country, and as it currently stands, that isn’t the case. As a consequence, approximately one sixth of the world’s population are incapable of gambling legally – and that’s not including other huge nations such as China where gambling is also outlawed.
There are just 3 states in India that permit gambling and, unsurprisingly, the one that fully embraces it is also famous for its tourism – Goa.
If you’re based in India and are eager to play roulette, slots and other casino games, you’ll need to be astute. Before you jump online or search out a black market gambling den, take the time to acquaint yourself with what India’s law says about gambling.
While many of the nations where gambling is illegal are Muslim countries, the same does not hold true in India. The country is predominantly Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist, and yet gambling is, for the most part, every bit as illegal as it is in the most restrictive of Muslim lands.
The Law on Gambling
India is an intriguing case when you examine its policy on gambling. In essence, any game which involves parting with money to participate in a luck-based game is illegal.
This has an upside however: any game that can be deemed to involve a sufficient element of skill, such as rummy, is legal. Like many nations that outlaw gambling, India permits lotteries. In fact, there are a number of lotteries available to Indian citizens including one operated by the gambling-friendly state of Sikkim.
While the law in India is pretty clear about the status of gambling in bricks and mortar premises within the country – namely, you can’t – for years it didn’t specify when it came to online gambling. As a consequence, many Indian citizens freely gambled online. The law was finally updated with the passing of the Information Technology Act 2000, but it has had little effect in diminishing Indians’ appetite for online gambling. If you’re keen to play roulette and similar casino games while visiting India, the web is your best bet.
That said, if you prefer the satisfying rattle of a reel roulette ball tumbling its way around the wheel, there is an alternative option: take a trip to Goa.
Gambling in Goa and Other Indian States
There are many reasons to visit Goa, not least its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, but if you’re an ardent gambler based in India, the greatest incentive to pay the state a visit is to check out its casinos.
As it stands there are 10 casinos in Goa, where live gambling has been legal since 1999. Every day, thousands of gamblers board ships moored on the Mandovi River to gamble at the 5 casinos that operate here.
The remaining casinos are land-based and, despite some opposition within the country – mostly based around fears of problem gambling – Goa’s casino trade is showing no signs of slowing down.
There are two more Indian states where gambling is permitted: Daman and Sikkim. The latter state has two casinos, known as Casino Sikkim and Casino Mahjong. In 2010, Sikkim also attempted to provide 3 online gambling licenses, but was thwarted by the national government. Conservative estimates have placed the value of the Indian gambling market at US $60 billion a year, incidentally, of which half is wagered illegally.
Playing Online Roulette in India
If you’re intent on playing roulette and other table games online, you should be aware of what the law has to say on the matter. According to the Information Technology Act passed in 2000, transmitting information that can ‘corrupt’ individuals is prohibited – and yep, gambling apparently falls into that category.
The punishment for doing so is a fine of up to 100,000 Indian rupees or 5 years in jail. In practice, this law is rarely enforced, especially in the case of individuals who elect to bet online. While it would be prudent to be discreet about online gambling if you intend to participate in it while visiting India, you are unlikely to face any serious consequences for doing so.
Whatever type of gambling you’re into, be it roulette, blackjack or sports betting, there are numerous sites where you can do so; the Indian government hasn’t attempted to restrict the sites that its citizens can visit. Many overseas casinos market themselves at Indian residents, knowing that there’s a lot of business to be scooped up within the sprawling country, the world’s seventh largest by landmass.
The biggest difficulty you might encounter while playing roulette, or other games, online in India is depositing funds into your casino account. Your best option is probably Neteller or Moneybookers; credit cards registered in India are unlikely to be accepted, likewise with bank transfers. E-wallets have become extremely popular throughout India, with casino transfers doubtless accounting for a good portion of their usage.
The Future of Gambling in India
The states that do permit gambling in India, especially Goa and Sikkim, are understandably keen to further amp up the range of services they can offer. The number of customers that can be accommodated by the country’s handful of land (and water)-based casinos is naturally limited.
The web, however, has no such limitations and could conceivably scale to accommodate all 1.2 billion of India’s citizens, if they suddenly decided, to a man, to take up gambling. If they can overcome the hurdles that stand in their way, expect to see India’s gambling-friendly states start issuing a limited number of online gaming licenses in the next few years.
Should you find yourself in India today, either as a tourist or as a permanent resident, you can play online with virtual impunity. Be mindful of the law however, bearing in mind that it is common sense to keep your gambling habits to yourself to avoid any potential hassle from the powers-that-be. If you’re intent on playing roulette and other table games at a bricks and mortar casino, Goa is the place to go.
For convenience, however, nothing can beat online casino play, and that’s where millions of Indians head to get their fix. Join them and you’ll find a wealth of options at your disposal. You might need to convert Indian rupees into a more universal currency to get started – potentially with the aid of an e-wallet service – but once done, you’ll be free to gamble wherever you like.
Is gambling legal in India?
For the most part, no. Save for a few exceptions, gambling is illegal throughout India. While this applies to luck-based games, skill games such as rummy are legal.
What are the exceptions?
There are three states where certain forms of gambling are permitted – Goa, Daman and Sikkim. You can play at casinos here that are stocked with traditional table games such as roulette and blackjack. India also operates a few lotteries, which are legal and extremely popular.
What’s the law concerning online gambling in India?
Online gambling is illegal. Anyone found to have breached the law could be subject to a fine or imprisonment.
Are players prosecuted in India for gambling online?
No, it’s rare for the government to target casual players for gambling within the country.