India: It's Not An Easy Game To Play Under The Gaming Laws

Last Updated: 14 December 2017
Article by S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates

Taking a break from the monotonous schedule is an important requirement for rejuvenation of people. Games serve as a source of entertainment, destressing the individuals from their routine activities. Played in numerous forms, varying from those deploying physical activities to the ones involving strategizing instincts.

The games involving mental faculties to win the challenge have been played since times immemorial. Since the days of the reign of kingdoms, games like chess, pacheesi (a form of ludo), snakes & ladders have always fascinated the royal families. By changed outlook and different variations the games still engross number of people towards them. Not merely restricted to their play on physical media, the games have now expanded their scope on the virtual world as well.

The playing of games for enjoyment purposes is allowed under the legal regime. The situations become tricky when it comes to the playing of games with the involvement of stakes. The law in India remains unclear as to the gaming domain. The major point of consideration which arises is the difference between gaming and gambling. Distinction has been made between games of skill and games of chance.

Gambling / games of chance are a play for value against an uncertain event in the hope of gaining something of value and is entirely dependent on chance/ luck. The games of such nature are allowed to be played once the operator of the game obtains a license for it in the said regard.

Games of Skill are the games that base success upon the existence of skill.

The Legal framework clearly recognizes the games with below elements are not "gambling"1:

  1. where success depends on substantial degree of skill; and
  2. despite there being an element of chance there is requirement of application of skill.

The law in India states a game to be a game of skill, even with the element of chance if it depends upon:2:

  • Superior knowledge;
  • Training;
  • Attention;
  • Experience;
  • Adroitness of the Player;
  • Element of Skill predominates over the element of chance

The Court while deciding on the Public interest litigation3 filed claiming the game 'Kaun Banega Crorepati based on the British show "Who wants to be a Millionaire" held that the game cannot be regarded as gambling. It was discussed that as per the format of the game, the candidate is asked question and given four options out of which he has to pick the correct answer. It was contended that the amount won in the question would serve as a stake for the next question and thus result in gambling. The Court held that skill was involved in answering of question put forth and therefore it was a game of skill and not gambling.


Gaming/ gambling being a matter of jurisdiction of State legislations are governed as per State/ local laws. The States have devised their independent laws regulating gaming and gambling activities within their territories. The State law(s) which regularize gambling are as follows:

  1. The north-eastern State of Sikkim by the virtue of Sikkim Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 2002 and Sikkim Casino Games (Control and Tax) Rules, 2007, regulates the operation of casinos, thus allowing gambling activities on board an offshore vessel.
  2. The western State of Goa under the provisions of the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, permits gambling activities in five star hotels post obtaining license after complying with the guidelines issued.

The State law(s) which strictly prohibit gambling are:

  1. The northeastern State of Assam by virtue of The Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970.
  2. The eastern State of Odisha: by virtue of The Orissa (Prevention of) Gambling Act, 1955
  3. The central western State of Gujarat vide order dated November 17, 2017, dismissed the petition4 of the club seeking approval of allowing the playing of poker and rummy under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.


In India, the online gaming law is at a very nascent stage and is being administered by the available, if any, local laws. The online gaming involving stakes is neither per se prohibited in India, nor are regarded as gambling activities. The presence of numerous online games including poker bears testimony to this fact. While the overall situation for online gaming is favorable in India, 24 out of the 29 States and all the 7 Union Territories permit the playing of online games with stakes. Only a few states expressly prohibit any wagering/ betting activities in toto. The respective state law(s) which prohibit/ regularize the playing of online games are as under.

  1. The northeastern State of Assam by virtue of The Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970.
  2. The eastern State of Odisha: by virtue of The Orissa (Prevention of) Gambling Act, 1955
  3. The Government of the newly constituted southern State of Telangana is in the process of framing a law based on their issued ordinances thereby imposing ban on online betting and gambling.
  4. The north-eastern State of Nagaland regularizes online gaming involving stakes by mandating the requirement of a license (involving license fees) for the same through the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and promotion of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016 & Rules, 2016.


The law regarding the governance of games remains in the grey area. There persists the requirement to clearly establish the criteria distinguishing the game of skill from a game entirely dependent upon chance. Being governed under the regime of the State Legislation, there remains absence of a uniformed opinion ensuring legality of certain games over others. Mere involvement of stakes is an inefficient mechanism to tag a game as a gambling activity. In the era of growing acceptance and evolution of gaming, there is a requirement of a Central effective legislation throwing light on the activities which may be specifically classified as gambling separating it from those involving preponderance of skill.


1. State of Bombay v. RMD Chamarbaugwala[ A.I.R., 1957 S.C. 699] - held by the Apex Court of India

2. Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan vs State Of Tamil Nadu & Anr [1996 AIR 1153] - held by the Apex Court of India 

3. Bimalendu De And Etc. vs Union Of India (UOI) And Ors. [AIR 2001 Cal 30]

4. Special Criminal Application No. 3900 of 2017

For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: or call at (+91- 11 30562000). Our website can be accessed at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions