With the cricket season in full swing, we see increased interest amongst users to bet on matches and win big. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding the legality of Indian betting sites that discourage people from trying such apps.
Online Betting: A Quick Overview
While subject matter experts deem gambling as an activity involving chance and prize money, legislation determines whether certain activities should be legally classified as ‘gambling’ or not. Upon close examination, we find that these legislations usually involve consideration of two factors:
- The presence of a prize and
- The element of chance.
If an activity satisfies these two elements, it is deemed as gambling and falls under the purview of legislation governing online gambling.
In some cases, no prize money is involved, or there is no winner(s). Such activities can be regarded as skill games and therefore constitute legal forms of gambling in India. On the other hand, if consideration is given to the third factor – competition – we find that such activities may fall under sports betting and become illegal per se.
This difference between Indian law and legislation in countries such as UK & AUS becomes apparent when we consider aspects such as:
- Which department controls regulation for e-sports (skill games),
- Who has powers to prosecute/terminate licenses and
- Whether the regulator has any appetite to deal with such cases. So, while the UK & AUS have clear definitions for gambling and skill games, the situation in India is far more ambiguous.
Myths about Betting Apps in India
There are several misconceptions surrounding cricket betting that allow users to bet on cricket matches. While these apps may appear harmless, the fact is that they have serious legal repercussions for users in India. Therefore, users need to understand applicable laws before using an app. Some common misconceptions about Indian betting sites are listed below:
Myth 1: Betting Apps are Illegal in India under the Information Technology Act & Indian Penal Code
Most people seem to believe that online gambling is illegal in India because of Section 37 of the IT Act. But this belief couldn’t be further from the truth as there is no reference to ‘gambling’ or ‘betting’ in Section 37 of the IT Act. This section primarily deals with hacking and unauthorized access to electronic systems.
Likewise, Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not make online gambling or betting illegal. This section prohibits public exhibition or sale of obscene material, which is defined as anything that is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest. It’s important to note that neither of these sections deals with the Act of gambling itself, but only certain ancillary activities.
Myth 2: Gambling is Legal in India if it is done through a Skill Game App
On the other hand, some people believe that cricket betting is legal in India if it is done through a skill game app. This misconception likely stems from the fact that Section 12 of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 makes exceptions for games of skill. However, this Act is no longer in effect as it was repealed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
While there may be some debate about the applicability of the Contract Act to gambling activities, it’s clear that the current legal framework in India does not expressly legalize gambling through skill games. There are many cases where users have been arrested for using skill game apps to gamble illegally.
Another common misconception is that the police won’t arrest users if they use a cricket betting app. This belief is based on the mistaken assumption that online gambling is legal in India. As we have seen, this is not the case, and users who bet on cricket online can be arrested and prosecuted.
In 2013, Mumbai police arrested a 24-year old user of Bet365 for placing bets on popular cricket matches such as the Ashes and the IPL. There have also been reports of police arresting users who bet on Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. This demonstrates that betting on any sport or match through an app is illegal in India, irrespective of whether it’s done through a skill game app or not.
Betting Apps are Legal in India
Despite the myths surrounding Indian betting sites, it’s clear that these apps are legal in India. This is because no law expressly prohibits their use. However, users should note that these apps can be used to engage with various illegal activities such as match-fixing, spot-fixing, and online gambling. For this reason, users need to familiarize themselves with Indian laws before using an app. Betting outside designated areas may also land you in trouble due to the Gambling Laws of India.