Betting is the action of money gambling, which is the result of game, race, or any unpredictable event. Betting is vigorously legislated in countries because of its unpredictability and the violence that goes with it. In contemporary India, the Public Gambling Act, along with different acts of the states on betting, has kept the regulation in check. However, this regulation has not entirely stopped the people in conducting nefarious activities related to betting and gambling. Online gambling, which contains the games of predominant chance, needs provisions to create corruption and illegal activities in its wake. However, banning betting is not an option as it will lead to more illegal activities behind the back of the government, and giving it a free reign is also not an option as it will create havoc in its rise. It is all the more critical now to balance betting laws in such a way to support the integrity of the people as well as creating revenue for the government and globalization regarding betting.

Skill v. Chance

Most countries have the criteria to decide the legality of the game by pondering whether the game is of skill or chance. The basis is to figure the predominance of skill that makes the game legal to play with. The exploratory market section worldview has been utilized to light up the job of self-evaluated expertise in chance taking. In particular, achievement goes with a passage on the off chance that a member is one of the better-positioned participants on the aptitude standard[1]. The base is to research what happens when members face an extra wellspring of vulnerability that bothers relative expertise rankings. Strangely, this has lopsided impacts. On ordinary, odds of accomplishment are expanded for those with low rankings, however, diminished for those with high rankings. Hence, the anticipation that the extra vulnerability would prompt more passage by the previous yet less by the last mentioned. The information upheld the first forecast in any case, for those with high ability rankings, the extra vulnerability had little effect. At long last, even though the market saw "overabundance section" (i.e., an excessive number of members entered markets), this couldn't be credited to overconfidence.

Sir William Anson has defined a wager or bet as "A promise to give money or money's worth upon the determination or ascertainment of an uncertain event," or it can be said that a wager is a contract where two or more parties agree on a certain sum of money to be paid to one of them on the happening of an uncertain event. This uncertain event justifies the classification of the game.

Constitution Of India And Betting

During the Constituent Assembly Debates, on 2 September 1949,[2] a motion was taken for the entry 35 (now entry 34) to deal with betting and Gambling under List II of the seventh schedule. However, it was opposed by many members saying that it is a crime and should be banned. They were of the view that the people are guided by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, and Mahabharata should be kept in mind while dealing with the decision like these. However, Ambedkar had a different view; he said that if there were no laws relating to these, then there will be no control over betting and gambling and that there should be guidance on prohibition and availability of some sports to bet or gamble. The Legislative powers are divided between the Centre and the States under Article 246 of India's Constitution on various topics, which are highlighted in three legislative lists of the Seventh Schedule. According to Entry 40 of List I, the Parliament has the power to make laws on 'Lotteries organized by the Government of India as well as the Government of any State.'

Article 249 of the Constitution emphasizes the Parliament's power to legislate under a matter in the State List in the National Interest. In contrast, Article 252 empowers the Parliament to legislate for two or more States on a plea made by such States. Thus, if the Parliament makes laws on the subject of gambling and betting, such laws will not stand vitiated on the ground of lack of competence or infringing on the legislative powers of the state.

The ideals and objectives are highlighted in the Directive Principles of State Policy. Betting and gambling have been prevalent in India since ancient times but has never been approved by mainstream society. The government usually prohibits such activities as it harms the societal balance; however, the social impact on the individual varies.[3] In the famous case of Guru Prasad Biswas &Anr. v. State of West Bengal and Ors.,[4] the Calcutta High Court commented that wagering also, betting exercises influence an individual's ethical quality and, in this way, encroach the right to life ensured under Article 21 of the Constitution. The idea of profound quality associated with betting can be recognized from that in sports-wagering. Sports are 'rounds of ability' where conditional parameters like physical aptitudes, exertion, technique and strategies, fundamental reason, and so on are likewise taken into thought.

Betting fundamentally involves the assurance of an outcome dependent on projections outside the human ability to control. In sports, be that as it may, assurance of results is primarily founded on expertise as opposed to risk. On the off chance that on occasion, a significant measure of expertise is required to put down the wagers, the contention of unethical behavior of the movement does not endure.

The Public Gambling Act, 1867

The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is 150-year old legislation that is made to punish the individuals involved in public gambling and maintaining gaming houses[5]. This Act was meant to put a stop on card games, dice, and cockfighting. The Act is derived from the British Gaming Act, 1845 and Betting Act, 1953. The Constitution of India confers upon the States the power to make laws on "Betting and Gambling," for they are enumerated in Entry 34 of List II of the Seventh Schedule. In like manner, after 1935, with the States in India having been met with the selective capacity to authorize laws on "wagering and betting" as likewise laws concerning tax assessment thereof, the Public Gambling Act stopped to be a Central Legislation, with the end goal that it was not, at this point a law relevant to the entire of the domain of India. In the present system, the primary way in which it can at present be held to be pertinent is if it is embraced by a State(s) legislature(s) out willingly. The only 14 states that have passed assent to Public Gambling Act are Andaman Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Uttarakhand.

This Act is not much accessible and impactful on the people of India. Individuals who enjoy betting likes to run these exercises in leased housing, including stalls, guesthouses, lodgings, to maintain a strategic distance from the punishment. In most such cases, when individuals are secured, landowners guarantee that betting was going on without their insight. Due to this, they avoid punishment and run on the activities prohibited by the law. Any article utilized or on the other hand, expected to be utilized as a subject or means of gaming, any report utilized or planned to be utilized as a register or record or proof of any gaming, the returns of any gaming, and any rewards or prizes in cash or something else appropriated or planned to be circulated in regard to any gaming.[6]

The Law Commission observed that the Public Gambling Act is an obsolete Act and in serious need of repeal as most of the state Enactments are based on the provisions of the Public Gambling Act. Therefore, the Law Commission acknowledged the need to overhaul the existing governing laws in the country; to fix it, Lodha Committee was appointed.

Lack Of Regulation

While betting and gambling, people are succumbed to play for longer duration. They are addicted to more money and power. This sanguine attitude of the people is put into a mirage, and ultimately it becomes a loss chasing contest rather than winning it. Speculators tend to over-gauge their odds of winning what's more, frequently experience the ill effects of a 'hallucination of control, i.e., the conviction on their part that they can utilize aptitude over a result which as a matter of fact relies on the possibility.[7] The problem in India lies with respect to betting and gambling because there is no central law in India. Online gambling is only permitted in Sikkim and Nagaland. This creates a huge problem in India as in Online Gambling, it is easy to gauge the nefarious activities which happen. Without online gaming, it is not easy to regulate these activities happening in every corner of the country.

A portion of the serious issues identified with illicit betting, what is more, wagering exercises are the exponential development of illicit exchange and business, and degenerate practices, for example, spot-fixing and coordinate fixing utilized in sports, especially cricket, the most well-known game in India. Left unregulated, this issue could additionally show and develop wildly. These activities still happen in the country despite the laws regulating betting and gambling. What is necessary over here is to regulate the market in a proper way and reduction of anonymous betting. The narrow distinction between the game of skill and chance blurs the lines of legality and illegality. Under Article 246 of the India Constitution, the country can obtain the license under the preponderance of skills game, which is unregulated at its best. Due to the unknown market of these activities and lack of central laws, an illegal gambler is bound to commit another crime like snitching, stealing, looting, etc.


In the contemporary world, with the profound interests of people in betting, it has become all the more important to regulate the functionary market with respect to betting and gambling. The primary concern of the market is to examine, understand the betting market, and its connections around the world. There is bias and quandary for the government as legalizing will help the government transfer the illegal bookies to the legal bookies which will help curb the corruption at the country level and on the other hand, betting causes fixing and kinds of nefarious activities which lead to people making substantial windfalls by making a winning bet. The government needs to focus more on online betting and gambling activities, as there are no laws regarding the same. It is very necessary to conduct online betting as they are predominantly based on chance.

The global betting market has increased tenfold in size since the last century. Such activities, if regulated properly, will yield many profits and can change the outlook of betting and gambling. There is a need to make Uniform Central laws for betting and gambling which will pose to be a challenge for India, as India is a diverse country with different beliefs and culture, so as to establish these laws keeping the integrity in mind, India needs to have a proper committee framework and amendments to reach the square. It will help in offering a vital window through which it will be better justified to regulate the laws and the market. The negative stance towards betting and some of the justification behind its criminalization is quite visible in the cases reported in India.

The statement that the inefficacy of law is valid in order to repeal or amend the existing law has left the people in the state of a conundrum. It is high time the State government looks into the 'side-effects' of the existing laws that are existing in their respective state laws regarding betting and gambling. Instead of eradicating evil, the law may instead drive the man to engage it in more clandestinely, which will result in greater harm. There is a need to examine the motives and regulation strategies of the conduct which needs to be legalized.


Ritvik Chouhan

Institue of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad


[1] Natalia Karelaia and Robin M. Hogarth, 'The attraction of uncertainty: Interactions between skill and levels of uncertainty in market-entry games' (2010).

[2] Constituent Assembly Debates, Official Report, (9) 6 Reprint, by Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi (2014).

[3] Nirod Kumar Palai, Sarojini Mishra' Gambling v. State: A Study of Problems and Prospects of Gambling Industry in India under Globalization Regime (2006).

[4] [1998] 2 CALLT 215 (HC).

[5] Should the govt scrap the 1867 Public Gambling Act right now? First Post (India 7 June 2013).

[6] Public Gambling Act, 1867.

[7] 3 Dr. Luke Clark, 'The Psychology of Gambling' accessed on 25 May 2018.

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