Are Mobile Casinos Legal in India?

Closing in on two decades, various opportunists have gotten themselves filthy rich from milking the European online gambling industry, which has grown bigger year after year. However, as gambling sites and affiliates to these have increased to thousands and thousands, the competition has gotten incredibly stiff. On top of this, many European countries have recently regulated the gambling market, which in cases like the UK and Sweden has led to harsh rules that have made gambling less fun – to put it simply.  

As a result, many have turned their eyes on India, which is said to be a rather untouched, but emerging market. In an article covering the subject, one can read that gambling operators are targeting India because of its unsaturated market, huge population, young inhabitants and lacking regulations. Mobile internet connections have improved over the years, making the country susceptible to mobile casinos.

But are mobile casinos really legal in India?

Having spoken with an expert on the subject, aHthe answer is both yes and no. It actually depends on where the casino is situated, where the players who are visiting the casino are residing and what products that are offered. According to Mattias Fröbrant who owns an Indian centric affiliate site where Indian mobile casinos are listed, running an online casino from India is a big no-no. He had the following to say:

“Gambling laws in India is a rather complicated matter. Generally, the act of gambling is frowned upon by authorities as many politicians see it as a health issue. However, all 29 states and 7 union territories that make up India set their own laws. Some are taking a more liberal stance, while others are continuing on the same restrictive path as they always have.

At the moment, Sikkim is the only state to have legalized online casinos. They offer operators the possibility to set up a business in the state and acquire a gambling license. Only Indians that reside in Sikkim are allowed to play on these sites, though, and with a limited population of 600,000, there isn’t much profit to be made. In other Indian states, setting up a mobile casino would be a criminal offence.

 This doesn’t stop gambling sites from targeting the Indian market though. By situating themselves in other jurisdictions where Indian laws don’t apply, it’s a green light to allow Indian residents. Thus, many operators are getting a license from the Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao Gaming Control Board and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.” 

Mr. Fröbrant further explains that while it’s easy for gambling sites and affiliates to target the Indian market from a foreign jurisdiction, it may not be wise to target all Indian states.

“Following the restrictive path, a couple of Indian states have recently made a strong stance against online gambling by making it an illegal activity for its residents. More specifically, the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu have made it a criminal offence, punishable by a large fee or even jailtime for gambling over the internet. As an affiliate, this is sad development which I fear, but hope not, will spread to additional states.”

As a last comment in our conversation with Mattias, he mentions that skill-based games are an exception to the restrictive gambling climate in the country.

“When I think of mobile casinos, I think of purely luck-based products like live dealer games, slot machines and scratchcards. However, for someone looking to get involved in Rummy, Fantasy Sports, Chess and Poker, the laws in India are quite liberal. Even though they may not always make perfect sense, distinct differences are made between luck-based and skill-based games. With only a few states being an exception, the latter types of games are allowed and can be legally offered in India. With these final words, we hope that we have answered any concerns that you may have about the legal status of online casinos in India. To conclude, it’s generally not a good idea to run a business related to gambling within India, but it’s perfectly fine to do so from outside the country. Most Indian residents are legally allowed to gamble online at off-shore casinos, though in a few states they may get in trouble with the law by doing so.