A very common question that is frequently asked is whether playing online poker in India is legal or illegal? Similarly, it is also often asked whether running of an online poker website in India is legal or illegal. Online gaming industry of India is fast maturing. However, in the absence of adequate laws in this regard, the online poker websites in India are heading towards legal troubles. There is an urgent requirement to bring regulatory reforms regarding online poker industry of India, says New Delhi based ICT law firm Perry4Law.
Indian people are real fanatics of gambling; which has incited numerous operators to open websites of online gambling in India. However, the latter risk committing a crime, given that the law which governs the market of online gambling in the country remains fuzzy. According to Praveen Dalal, a partner of the firm Perry4Law of New Delhi, specialist of data-processing law, the legality of a room of online poker depends on its domain name and its organization mode. That causes a vast confusion within operators and authorities. Recently, the Mumbai crime branch has dismantled websites of gambling which operated illegally. Numerous other gambling websites could also know the same fate for a reason of non conformity to Indian laws.
The legality of online poker is still a grey area in India, and while the game’s popularity continues to surge on the subcontinent, the Indian government has some fairly strict restrictions when it comes to granting official licenses for online poker rooms meaning only a few gambling operators have so far managed to obtain one.
At present, the specific Indian law that relates to online gambling and poker is the Information Technology Act of 2000, as well as other laws such as the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Public Gambling Act. As a result, an unlicenced poker room may find its access blocked by Internet service providers, even though there is an exemption in Indian law for games of skill. This is because the country’s government has still to decide whether or not online poker games fall into that category and so the atmosphere of uncertainty continues to exist in India.
The crux of the legal position seems to be that if an online poker website is following the laws of India while operating in India, it is legal to play online poker in India. However, if the laws of India are breached during such online presence both the cyber law of India and other applicable state laws may be attracted.