Gambling Laws in India

Vegas as a pilgrimage of Gambling seems to have overflowed… Gambling is today a prevalent activity not only in the West but also in India. One of the major tourist attractions in Goa is popularly known to be gambling upon oceanic waters in the middle of nowhere!! In the recent times gambling has become a talk in the legal fraternity as well. With so many recent judgements depicting a collective opinion of the society towards segregating illegal gambling from its legal forms and protecting games like Rummy and others we review the laws related to gambling in different states in India.

Gone are the days when the society considered gambling and betting as a taboo. In today’s modern times gambling is a major tourist attraction. However, on a cautious note, any practice in the society, whether good or bad, if not regulated by the State will soon find itself spiraling down towards becoming a taboo. Gambling is no exception to this. Gambling is the wagering of money or any other valuables upon the contingency of an uncertain event. According to Black’s Law Dictionary[1]  “gambling involves, not only chance, but a hope of gaining something beyond the amount played. Gambling consists of consideration, an element of chance and a reward”…… Gambling in a nut-shell is payment of a price for a chance to win a prize”.

There is hardly any form of society in the world which was able to rid itself of gambling and its vices as there will always be someone or the other yearning for easy money! Gambling in itself is not the problem, the problem lies with its addictiveness and ancillary practices and lack of holistic legislations regulating it.

Legality- Skill v. Chance:

Gambling is a generic term. There are numerous different forms of gambling. As far as legality is concerned, not all of them are illegal. The Supreme Court has held that unless it is purely a game of chance, it is not illegal. The whole essence of gambling is playing by “chance”. However, according to the Supreme Court, even though the most important aspect of gambling is chance it does not mean that it is completely devoid of skill. Games which require skill up to a certain degree, and such games will not be illegal.

In K.R. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu[2], the Supreme Court defined a ‘game of skill’ to mean “one in which success primarily depends on the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience, and adroitness of the player”. Games like golf, horse race betting and chess are considered to be “games of skill”. It is interesting to note that even if horse race betting is assumed to require skill, betting in Cricket is prohibited even though the required skill set is substantially similar.

‘Rummy’ was held to be a game of skill as considerable skill was required in “fall of the cards had to be memorized”, and “holding and discarding cards”.[3]

Related Articles:

Delhi High Court says that Playing Rummy with Small Stakes In A Club Would Not Amount To Gambling

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To know more about Gaming Laws in India, click on the links below:

Gaming & Sports Law in India

Online Gaming in India

Gambling Laws in India

Sports Law in India

[1] (Sixth Edition)

[2] 1996 AIR 1153, 1996 SCC (2) 226

[3] State Of Andhra Pradesh v K. Satyanarayana & Ors 1968 AIR 825




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