The principal enactment concerned
with the regulation of gaming or gambling in India is the Public Gambling Act,
1867 (“PGA”). However, as the
Constitution of India authorizes States to legislate on betting and gambling,
there are a number of states which have promulgated their own enactments
concerned with the offer of gaming and gambling services within such states.
The PGA criminalises the
act of ‘gambling’ in a public forum in India and the keeping of a ‘common
gaming house’. However the PGA makes
an important exemption for games of skill from the prohibitive ambit of the
PGA. This treatment of gambling and exemption for games of skill is reflected
in a number of other state statutes as well.
The Supreme Court of India in one of its landmark verdicts in 1996
competition which substantially depends on skill is not gaming. Gaming is the
act or practice of gambling on a game of chance. It is staking on chance where
chance is the controlling factor. Gaming in two Acts would, therefore, mean
wagering or betting on games of chance.”
Games of Skill
The PGA distinguishes
between betting on a “game of chance” and staking on a “game of skill” by
expressly exempting “games of skill” from its penal provisions against gambling.
Most state gambling legislations are in consonance with the PGA, and similarly exempt
games where the outcome is predominantly based on skill.
Thus it can be concluded that Indian laws in
general differentiate between games of skill and games of chance and specify a
strict prohibition on participation and offer of games of chance for stakes,
while taking a more favourable position with games of skill. In this regard, it may be noted that the Supreme Court of
India in one of its verdicts in 1996 concluded that “games involving a ‘substantial or preponderant’ degree of skill would
amount to games of ‘mere skill’ ”.
Further, the West Bengal Gambling and
Prize Competition Act, 1957, expressly excludes bridge, poker, rummy, and nap
from the definition of gaming or gambling.
Therefore, by placing reliance on
exemption of the game of poker from the definition of gambling in West Bengal
and decisions of the Supreme Court of India, it can be concluded that playing
poker and other similar skill based card games for the legitimate forms of
consideration would be permitted due to the overt element of skill involved in
It may be noted that the state
legislations of Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Assam, and Odisha do not permit the playing of ‘games
of skill’ for money (“Excluded States”).
If any User residing in the Excluded
States is found to be participating in
any Real Money Games on the Platform or registers by giving false information,
the User will be solely liable in such instance and the Company reserves the
right to terminate the User Account without any further notice and refund and/or
block any unused funds credited into such User’s account. In the event of such
breach, the Company also reserves the right to forfeit any winnings or Bonus
Amounts as the case may be. The Company or the Platform operated by the Company
will not be liable for Users' breach of applicable State laws.