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India Online Casinos

IndiaIndia is the second-most populous country in the world, as it is home to more than 1.2 billion people in total. That has made it a potentially desirable market for the gambling industry, especially as the nation’s middle class has grown by leaps and bounds in recent decades. And while you might not immediately think of India as a major casino destination, there are some venues here: three Indian states allow for casinos, and games of skill can generally be bet on anywhere in the nation.

Online gambling is similarly a work in progress here. While there are not yet any licenses available for the industry at the moment, the idea has been floated, and games like rummy are popularly (and, apparently, legally) played over the Internet for real money throughout the country. Many foreign operators have also taken an interest in the Indian market, meaning there are plenty of options for players who are looking to place a bet online.

State Control Over Betting Decisions

Much like in the United States, India delegates most of the responsibility for gambling law to the states. While the Supreme Court will sometimes step in to make rulings on gaming issues, it is the 29 states here that set the basic guidelines for what is allowed within their borders. This means that while we can give a general overview of the betting landscape in this country, you’ll want to make sure to understand your local and state laws to know exactly what is considered permissible where you live. The good news is there are plenty of online casinos that accept Indians and the best Indian casinos are laid out in the table below.

Top Casino Sites in India 2017

  • Rank
  • Casino
  • Bonus
  • Play
1
100% UP TO $1000
2
50% UP TO INR 25,000
3
Coming Soon

Top Casino Sites in India 2017

1
Spin Palace Casino
100% UP TO $1000
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2
Indio Casino
50% UP TO INR 25,000
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3
Bet365 Casino
Coming Soon
Play Now

In a general sense, India has some fairly strong laws against gambling that go back to the 19th century. “Public gaming houses,” are illegal, with moderate punishments set for running such a venue, and lighter ones on the books just for visiting one.

But there are a lot of exceptions to these laws, and much of that comes down to the distinction between games of skill and luck. While this is sometimes used as a determining factor in other jurisdictions, it has become particularly important here, where multiple cases have considered the status of rummy – a card game that is popular as a betting game in many parts of the world, and is particularly well-liked in this country.

This most recently came up in 2015, as the Supreme Court was forced to once again consider whether rummy could legally be played for real money. In 2012, a lower court had ruled against Chennai’s Mahalakshmi Cultural Association, suggesting that such games constituted illegal gambling. But the Supreme Court ruled once again that as a game of skill, rummy was protected under a 1957 ruling that distinguished between luck-based activities and ones in which player decisions had a real impact on the results.

Casino gaming is also found in India, though only in certain areas. At the moment, three states allow such venues: Goa, Sikkim, and Daman. Goa is the clear leader, offering 10 resorts (four riverboat operations, and six land-based casinos). Casino Sikkim and Casino Mahjong are both located in Sikkim, while Daman is expecting its first land-based resorts to open in the near future. Other states have considered legalizing such resorts as well.

Horse racing is a popular pastime here, with the first race track in the country dating back to 1777. Only Indian-bred horses are allowed to run in most races (including the “Classic” races that are the biggest events of the season), which take place at six turf clubs across the country. Parimutuel wagering is allowed at these venues, making horse racing one of the easiest ways for Indians to legally place bets. Lotteries are also offered in the country, though not all states participate in the drawings. Some of the biggest contests include the Playwin Lottery and the Jaldi 5.

Some Online Gaming Legal

While Internet gambling laws can sometimes be rather confusing, it’s usually true that where the government is against the practice in general, they’re also opposed to seeing it flourish online. This seems to be the case here too, as many forms of online betting in India are generally prohibited, though cricket betting sites continue to flourish as a result of the nation's sporting obsession.

But just like in the real world, this ban is far from complete. Some lottery tickets, for instance, can be purchased over the web. And the same skill vs. luck argument that has been so critical for the status of card games at brick-and-mortar clubs could drive policy on the Internet as well.

For instance, take the recent court decision we referenced earlier that found it was still legal to play rummy for money. Several online rummy sites joined in on the lawsuit, asking for clarity on their situation in the face of the legal challenge to the live clubs. Even before their final decision was reached, the Supreme Court clarified that their ruling – and the case it was based on – would not have any impact on the websites. Of course, the final ruling was even more strongly in favor of the game as a whole, which likely eased the concerns of operates even further.

But while that may be good news for players of that game, Indian online casinos are not regulated or condoned by the government. At the moment, the closest to a national law that governs such sites would be the Information Technology Act of 2000, which prohibited a number of things, including gambling, over the Internet. On the other hand, the state of Sikkim has looked to offer licenses for web-based gaming; while they have yet to do so, they do offer an online lottery through Playwin.

Despite this general lack of regulation, however, many foreign Internet gambling operators allow Indians to play on their sites. That gives players here a wide range of options when it comes to playing games like blackjack, slots, and roulette on their computers and mobile devices. As a gray market, you can expect to find the typical mix of firms that are a little looser in their regulatory compliance here. Some of the most reputable software developers whose games you can play from India include:

  • Playtech
  • Microgaming
  • NetEnt
  • Betsoft
  • Realtime Gaming (RTG)

Likely Growth Target for Industry

Outside of perhaps China, no country has a larger potential base of players for the gaming industry to target than India. That has already happened in the world of Internet poker, where many companies have tried to capitalize on the country’s love of other card games (particularly rummy) to introduce the game here. It isn’t exactly a hotbed of poker activity yet, but there are certainly fans of the game, as home games have become popular and many of the casinos in India now have small rooms devoted to the game.

One of the biggest questions going forward will be the status of online gambling under Indian law. As we mentioned, the recent rummy case saw the Supreme Court punt on the question of Internet games, saying that they would only decide on that issue if a case that had something directly to do with playing online was brought to them.

On the one hand, the fact that rummy has once again been affirmed as a game of skill has been seen in a very positive light by poker players, as it is widely believed that it both games would be placed in the same category. However, that does little for the other types of games you might find on a casino website, many of which are strongly luck-based. There’s also the question as to whether the skill argument would protect card game sites, stopping them from being classified as gambling.

If these questions are resolved, and Sikkim or other states want to license betting sites, it could give a boost to the emerging gaming culture in India. Until then, it is likely that many foreign operators will continue to offer games in the absence of regulation, taking advantage of a huge population that has more money to spend on leisure every year.

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