Tax Laws for Gambling in India

Tax Laws - Gambling India - Taxscan

India has a complicated history with gambling. On the one hand, gambling is a widely seen practice and has a close religious connotation. On the other hand, the legitimacy of legal gambling is not very well known. Gambling is an offense occurring in a gaming house in many states, which raises concern amongst Indian players.

There is a common perception amongst Indian players that gambling is illegal or unregulated in the country. This is not true. India’s gambling industry is valued at around $60 billion, which includes both unregulated and regulated gambling. The various types of gambling activities that are included are horse racing, sports betting, the game of skill and chance, prize competitions, and lotteries.

Types of Gambling in India


Lotteries are regulated through the Lotteries Act of 1998. The Government of India has issued additional rulings regarding the minimum price amount and the number of draws.

Horse Racing

Eleven states in India allow horse race betting. These include Meghalaya, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal. However, active horse races do not take place in all of these states. According to Indian law, horse race counts as a game of skill because the skill of the horse and the jockey is to be considered to predict the nature of the race.

Prize Competitions

Any competition with a prize offering for puzzle solving requiring arrangement, permutation combination, or other categories comes under the prize competitions.

Sports Betting

In sports betting, it has not been exclusively defined whether it comes under a game of skill or a game of chance. The Supreme Court of India has not ruled in this matter. This is why there are some confusion and a grey area in the country. However, some states are showing the way. Sikkim has been at the forefront of legalizing online sports betting inside the state. They have started issuing the license to operators for allowing bets on video sports.

Games Of Skill

Games of skill come under various categories because different states in India have different gambling acts. The Supreme Court has declared that the game of chance is any game where luck determines the game’s outcome instead of skill. At the same time, a game of skill is where the skill of the player is the determining factor over luck.

Chess, Rummy, bridge, and some other sports like golf have been categorized as games of skill in Tamil Nadu. In Karnataka, games of skills include chess, poker, and more. The prohibition of gambling and regulation and promotion of the online game of skill act of 2015 in Nagaland defines the game of skill as any game that requires mental skill and understanding to determine the game’s outcome. 

Games Of Chance

This is the category where most online casino games lie. Most games of chances are prohibited under the gambling acts of states. There are, however, some exceptions to the role. For example, Goa has provided licenses to various casinos that operate within the country and offshore. Sikkim has also created a Sikkim Casino Game Act 2004, allowing casinos to operate within the state legally.

Online Gambling In India

Sikkim operates under the Sikkim online gaming regulation act of 2008. The act was passed with the objective of regulation and control of the state’s online gaming industry. There have been some amendments to the legislature from time to time. There are regulations on both online and offline format of gambling with taxation within the state.

This act restricts any activity of online and sports games under the issued license. This means this act regulates the physical gaming terminals in the state. Initially, the act was designed with the idea that gaming capability will be offered to players all across India without keeping it restricted strictly to the state of second.

The government of Nagaland also has a gambling act named Nagaland Prohibition Of Gaming And Promotion And Regulation Of Online Games Of Skill Act of 2016. In this game, there are regulations for games that are considered games of skill. These games can be licensed, and license holders can operate inside India from any state wherever gambling is allowed and legal.

Sikkim has also created a regulation that controls online gambling activities inside the state. Other than these two state regulations, none of the other state or central government legislations mention anything about online gambling, which will ultimately make online gambling, including games of skills, something of a disputed area.

Considering that Indian players have a significant chance of betting on Indian and foreign-owned websites due to plenty of casinos, there are no direct laws that completely prohibit or regulate these kinds of gaming activities.

Since there are no exact regulations controlling the gaming activity that is happening over overseas servers located outside of India, there are other intermediary compliance laws that regulate these gaming activities.

This falls under the information technology act of 2000, which puts a restriction on foreign exchange earnings and outgoing of money, along with a clause on money laundering, which is strictly prohibited.


There are no Indian laws governing gambling, which makes the entire territory completely unclear. The Indian judiciary has tried to clarify during the hearing of various case laws on this matter. However, considering the rapid technological changes that have made offshore and onshore gambling available to India’s players, the sector has been wide opened, and millions of players are participating in activities that are not clearly defined inside the gambling laws in India. These gambling activities are still going to take a long time to be scrutinized to come under proper regulation. The precise advice to Indian players would be to take a piece of legal advice if they are going to be gambling online in any capacity to avoid legal ramifications.