Operators and players face jail as India cracks down on online gambling

  • Indian state of Telangana has drafted new laws banning players and operators from online gambling
  • Comes after state had hinted at being in favour of the practice earlier in 2017

The southern Indian state of Telangana has drafted up tough new penalties to deter players and operators alike from dabbling in online gambling. Harsh new laws will see offending operators jailed for facilitating online gambling after the Telangana Cabinet updated its stance on gambling.

india bans online gambling games of skill
The southern Indian state of Telangana has promised fines and prison sentences for both players and operators involved with gambling online

The Gaming Act 9174 has now been revised to incorporate online gambling, and specifically to proscribe it. Under the newly amended bill, “cyber space” is deemed out of bounds when it comes to betting and gambling of all kinds. As a consequence, individuals and operators who flout the law will face tough penalties including the possibility of jail.

Up to one year in jail

In the severest of cases, a fine will be levied of up to INR 5,000 and one year in jail, with offenders caught a second time having their sentence and fine doubled. The new laws also give the police additional powers, permitting officers of a certain rank to seize money and investments they suspect to have been used to support online casinos.

The original Gaming Act for the southern state of 35 million excludes games of skill from the ban, but that doesn’t mean that games like poker are permitted. In New York, proponents of online gambling have sought to introduce poker using a loophole, claiming that it’s a skill-based game.

In Telangana, that explanation will receive short shrift, as the game must be “totally based on the skill and ability of the person”. As a consequence, games like rummy will also remain illegal in Telangana for, like poker, it isn’t wholly skill-based.

State performs u-turn

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the state’s crackdown on gambling isn’t the harsh penalties that offenders could face – it’s that Telangana has even decided to outlaw the practice in the first place.

Three months ago, the state was believed to be in favour of allowing online gambling, but has since performed a U-turn, leaving Telangana gamblers with no legal means of enjoying their favourite online casino games.

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