A Guide to Cricket and Sports Betting in India, and Asia
There is currently an overhaul of gambling laws occurring in many countries it seems. Ireland has changed the laws surrounding low payout slot machines so that minors can no longer play them. They are now looking at the laws that circumvent the prohibition on casinos also.
A few years ago, America's Supreme Court removed the federal law that was preventing the freedom for states to set their own laws regarding sports betting. Other countries are also loosening up certain laws regarding gambling and casinos, while others are getting stricter.
In 1867, The Public Gambling Act was brought in, in India. This heralded the end to betting on cricket and other gambling activities in general. However, of course, things have changed since then, technology has moved on, and more ways to gamble have appeared.
What are sports betting and gambling like in India now, and what about some of the surrounding countries?
Is sports betting legal in India?
Sports betting, like most other forms of gambling, is illegal in India. Nearly every form of gambling was prohibited by the British with the introduction of the Gambling Act of 1867.
That doesn't mean to say that all sports are banned outright. There is one sport that can be bet on in India, and that is horse racing.
This is consistent with many other countries, especially in Asia, where the majority of betting activities are prohibited. Horse racing betting is nearly always allowed.
Surely you can bet on cricket in India?
Cricket is sacrosanct in India, it is a religion almost unto itself. Cricket is so popular that when people aren't playing it, or watching it, the fans search for the best cricket content online. Cricket fans want to soak up every bit of information about the sport that they can.
Many, many, of them, also want to be able to bet on the game. But in India, they cannot.
In England or Australia, two other big cricketing nations, there is no problem with sports betting. The UK has some of the most relaxed sports betting laws in the world, and yet it was this nation that brought in the strict gambling laws initially in India.
Yet even after independence, the country continued to use the laws enacted by the previous British rulers.
Why is this?
At the time of the initial changes to the gambling laws, there was a feeling that wagering was getting out of control. Gambling on cricket and other activities was increasingly popular and it was felt that it could cause social and moral problems.
Many people in the government today still feel that gambling can lead to a multitude of problems as can other illicit activities such as alcohol and drugs.
There is an ethical and moral dilemma in India over the benefits and problems that gambling can cause. However, some forms of gambling are allowed and seemingly without any of these issues.
What type of gambling is legal in India?
As mentioned above, betting on the horses in India is perfectly allowed. This is quite possibly because when the laws were changed, the British wanted to be able to keep enjoying this activity.
It is also allowed because it is seen as a 'game' of skill rather than luck. As in, it takes skill by the gambler to pick the right horse and rider and understand the conditions and the turf.
Some states have allowed lotteries to take place. These are run by the local governments, and anyone of legal age can play.
Casinos are also allowed in a few restricted areas. Goa is the biggest and most popular place for land and river casinos. Goa has always had something of a reputation for looser rules and laws and is a popular tourist destination. Now, it is popular with domestic and international casino fans.
Can you bet on cricket and sports online in India?
There are plenty of online betting sites that allow anyone over 18 to log in and bet on cricket, football, and other sports. However, in India, it isn't always legal.
Some states where casinos have been permitted, also allow online games such as poker and slots, and sportsbooks. However, in other states, online casinos and betting are still illegal.
The penalty for playing online in a casino can be up to 3 months in prison. Running such an operation would lead to far stiffer sentences though.
What about some of the other Asian countries?
In nearby Nepal, gambling is also illegal. Some designated places allow patrons to enjoy sports betting and casinos. However, these are for tourists only.
Agents in Nepal run online gambling. These places are often raided and shut down. The websites, however, exist offshore and are running entirely legally.
China also outlaws every form of gambling, except the state lottery. Thailand has slightly more relaxed laws. Horse racing and the lottery are allowed to be gambled on in Thailand. Card games and casinos though are outlawed. Games are regularly raided.
In these countries, online gambling is usually the choice for residents. Anyone can go to Paddy Power, MGM, or LV BET, and place a bet on the cricket.
Why should sports betting be legalised?
For many, it is a contentious issue, and for many, religion and ethics are also involved. However, there are also the positives to think about. The tax revenues that can be made could go towards schooling, hospitals, and back into sports. And some powerful people agree.
Last year, the Minister of State for Finance spoke out and said that legalising sports betting could help in many ways. According to the Financial Express, he said it would take it away from the underground practices, and stop some of the corrupt practices that are currently happening.
The US is very much heading towards having a country where sports betting is widely permitted. As long as problem gambling is largely avoided, then the country will be benefitting from any increases in tax revenues.
What is the best way to bet on sports or cricket in India?
From a sports fan's point of view, you should study the statistics in cricket betting so that you have an edge. Having knowledge in any sport you bet on can help give you a slight advantage sometimes. Although, as any sports fan knows, anything can happen.
As far as the law is concerned, you should be in a state that allows online sports betting before you go online. Technically though, if you use an offshore gambling website then you may be ok.
Check that you won't have any problems receiving your winnings though, as banks may not allow funds from online casinos to be deposited and withdrawn. As always, check your local laws before you go online, and use a VPN for privacy and security.
For a country that loves sports, and cricket in particular, so much, it is surprising that sports betting is still prohibited. Clearly, certain members of parliament realise that there are great financial incentives to allow betting, but not everyone else is convinced.
If you want to bet on cricket in India, you are probably safe to do so online. Certainly, a tourist should have no concerns. But entering any land-based gambling establishment that isn't legal could lead to a fine and imprisonment.