The Public Gaming Act of 1867, often known as the “Gambling Act,” is India’s principal gambling law. The state legislatures, on the other hand, are now entrusted with substantial regulatory freedom under the Indian Constitution to draught state-specific gaming legislation. The Gambling Act is a core law that has been accepted by certain Indian states, while others have passed their own “Gambling Legislations” to control and manage their own gaming and gambling operations inside their respective jurisdictions. Most Gambling Legislation was created before the emergence of virtual or online gambling places, and therefore most Gambling Legislations only apply to gaming and gambling activities that take place in physical locations. Despite the growing popularity of gambling and betting in India and the significant money generated by it, Indian laws and courts have been hostile to any game of chance and probability, with the exception of Goa and Sikkim. Since the beginning of the British administration, numerous Indian states have enacted the Gaming Act, making all kinds of gambling and betting illegal in their jurisdictions.
Apart from some modifications within the same legislation, India continues to implement the rules in place before independence as its gambling laws. However, several states in our nation, such as Goa and Sikkim, have their own gaming laws. The Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, made gambling legal in the state of Goa. This legislation was revised to enable card rooms on offshore boats and slot machines in five-star hotels, as long as the State Government’s prior consent and authorization are obtained after payment of a certain charge. The term “gambling” is not defined in the Gambling Legislations, however, it is defined in the dictionary as “to bet anything on a contingency or take a chance.” The following are prohibited from gambling under the Gambling Legislation:
- betting on a horse race (subject to legal rules);
- games of skill (excluded under the Gambling Act and by court decisions);
- and (lotteries) (regulated by lottery laws of India).
Gambling has existed since the dawn of time and maybe understood in both contemporary and traditional forms. Though gambling has traditionally been associated with physical spaces, it also incorporates laptops, cellphones, and the internet, which may be connected to a variety of other devices. Furthermore, if the activity is a game of skill, gambling laws do not have any legal consequences. By virtue of Section 12, the Gambling Act exempts ‘games of skill’ from the law’s reach. In the case of Dr. R. K. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court defined a “game of skill” as “one in which the team’s vast intellect, training, concentration, expertise, and eloquence are the primary determinants of victory.” A game of chance is defined as one in which the element of chance prevails over the element of skill, while a game of skill is defined as one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance, according to the Court. The actual character of the game is determined by the dominating factor, i.e. “skill” or “chance.”