Sports Betting in India: The Beginner's Guide

Do you know what exactly sports betting is? Is sports betting legal in India? What good or bad forms of laws & economics are attached to sports betting in India? Let's start, but before you ask for much - sports betting is mostly illegal but there are some catches. Read on to learn.

First of all, sports, like cricket, have a special place in the hearts of Indians. And so does the game of betting. Betting is mainstream in India. Not just in sports, gambling has its own ways for its existence on the corner of some street, at homes or at any public gathering. From penny-stakes gambling to underground betting, it's all in there.

Betting is a big billion-dollar industry that is mostly illegal. But India has different rules towards it in different parts of the country.

Let's take a deeper look into how legal sports betting in India.

Gambling is for Asia.

Many countries in Asia use their legal gambling sources, like casinos, to be more specific, to attract tourists. That is a big part of their revenue system.

Countries like Singapore are setting the level of inspiration for others to go for it. South Korea, Sri Lanka to the Philippines, are all into maintaining similar gambling places.

horse racing - sports betting

India, on the other hand, is still playing with their laws. According to the Public Gambling Act, 1867, a law even older than Mahatma Gandhi still rules, owning the operations of any gambling house, entering a gambling place, or having a gambling device is prohibited.

It does have an exception, though.

To be more specific, there are two games in sports betting,

  • the game of skills
  • the game of chance

The ‘game of skills’ is simply the fantasy gaming arena where you can play using your skills and intelligence, Dream11, Rummy, Horse betting, online poker, IPL Predictions being some examples. The games of skill require your skill and knowledge. And this is supported by the government.

According to the law, if a game can be affected by the knowledge and skills of a player then it is legal. Fantasy sports like rummy and horse racing are legal in India.

Meanwhile, the ‘game of chance’ is stated to be affected by the luck of the person playing. This is illegal, according to the legislation.

It does seem to be an issue handled by the central government, but is rather governed by the state legislations. So that means, all states can make their own rules and regulations depending upon their scenarios.

Of course, almost every state has made the skill over chance ratio a prohibition, but as you say, exceptions are everywhere. According to the Goa, Daman and Diu Gambling Act, 1976 [pdf link], casinos and other games of chance are permitted. Similarly, in Sikkim, Telangana and Assam, there aren't specific restrictions.

There is a penalty and imprisonment under the gambling acts of other states, but this variation in laws does not seem to support the prohibition altogether and hence, somewhere, supporting it all.

The Motivation

Talking about the sources that forces Indians into gambling and sports betting, India has a societal factor. It is in the culture of some community to gamble. The festival, Diwali, is meant as the festival of lights and gambling. It is just one factor. Some are more characteristic.

People agree that their loneliness is a factor that they put themselves into gambling and sports betting.

Betting on matches gives them the opportunity to have conversation and connection with new people. Some take sports betting to get rid of their tiring routines. This psychological factor draws sports betting to a different level.

The adrenaline rush is yet another kind of psychological factor. The uncertainty of winning a bet makes some people get an adrenaline rush; they start putting higher capital into risk.

Extreme cases, as you must have found irrational, is an outcome of this thrill-derived mentality of a few bettors.

They keep this illegal business going. Some bettors ‘bet’ on the fact that after putting money on some match, even the most boring part of the game becomes so interesting and thrilling. This is the reason half of the time, encourages them to bet.

But the main reason is the monetary factor that motivates most of the betting and gambling business.

Spending money to earn money still tops the chart.

Due to the perception that betting can end up in a quicker earning of money, it tempts more and more people. They keep on losing money and still bet to recover the losses from the betting. That is how this industry works even after the prohibitions are put on it.

It is not new for anyone. Everybody, especially the vulnerable, has access to it through the news and the celebrity support it gets. How?

The biggest news story, which questioned the loyalty of many cricket celebrities to their game, came out in the year 2013.

In the Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting case where Delhi police found S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, guilty in connection with a bookie, were suspended and banned from cricket.

Again in 2015, the IPL superstars Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were given a two-year ban from the Indian Premier League by Board of Cricket Council of India (BCCI). The team members were accused of betting and corruption.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a celebratory series where cricketers from almost all of the country's teams unite and play. The money it legally requires to host such an event every year is minus the money which involves underground betting.

While cricket betting is the topmost source of sports betting in India, the IPL tops everything in this category. An estimate says that one international cricket match can raise up to 200 million dollars in a day. There are many other options to do sports betting, as suggested by sporting pedia. Football, Kabaddi, Hockey etc. like sports are getting wide attention in India. In upcoming years every other sport will come in the purview of betting.

Why is Sports Betting Unhealthy?

Not bluffing, but, there has been no ban on online betting operated from outside India. This loophole has been perfectly utilized the offshore betting companies by giving betting freaks a platform. And websites in India has been hooked up to these offshore websites to make it much easier.

The example given: This advisory website told a newspaper that they don’t claim to do sports betting but help the bettors get in touch with the betting websites. Go to the link they provide, register and bet on the match you like.

Sports betting is not just betting on the winning or the losing team, it is about everything that happens in the match. If cricket, it may include betting on the toss win, what the captain will choose for, the catch drop, misfields, strokes and what not. There is no question how it arose to this extent. But it is unhealthy, even after all this income and popularity. The reasons include a lot.

The government cannot successfully track all the resources from where the money is bet and hence sometimes it ends into a black market. Where almost all of the underground sports betting is illegal, there is no concept of government putting tax on it. This can be a big chance for India to grab huge revenues from this big income.

As already mentioned above, betting corrupts the sport. Moreover, it corrupts the finances of Indians, when they end up putting everything into betting and gambling. They are least productive and henceforth, a threat to the economy of nation.

What holds in future for sports betting?

It is not easy to make the gambling and underground sports betting totally legal, it might affect the citizens’ livelihood and the society.

The least specific laws and the taste of gambling have made it more easy and likely to bet into the sports. The fact that it is not guilty and money for money is not wrong, sports betting has been into India having deep significance. Obviously, it is not easy to eradicate it too easily, it is so mainstream.

The above-mentioned were the main reasons why sports betting has made its position tightly glued as the gambling practice in the country.