The interest of online gamers and online gamblers in India is well known. This is natural as well as India is a historic destination of gamers and gamblers. Our history and mythology reflects this position very well. However, while India has kept alive this hobby and craze for gambling yet it failed to sufficiently regulate these gambling activities. This is more so when we consider online gaming and gambling activities in India.
This legislative indifference has not diluted the interest of gamers in India. However, this situation has made many activities illegal that could have otherwise been regulated by proper Indian laws. This has also created a situation of legal uncertainty among the gaming enthusiastics and gaming entrepreneurs of India as online gaming industry is still maturing in India.
It has been reported that the Mumbai crime branch has busted an online gambling websites in India that was operating in an illegal manner. This is just a single online gaming website that has been busted as there are many more websites to be legally scrutinised by Indian law enforcement agencies. Even online poker websites may be targeted by Indian police.
While we have no dedicated online gambling laws in India yet online gambling is regulated to a great extent by provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000. A good website spreading awareness about online gaming and gambling laws in India can be found here.
The present trends regarding regulatory frameworks vis-à-vis online gambling and online gaming are not very encouraging. For instance, the United States (US) is still struggling to decide about the legality of online poker. In fact, Merge Gaming recently suspended online poker accounts in New Jersey and Delaware citing security reasons. Similarly, Singapore is planning to ban online gamming websites. The attempt of United Kingdom’s government to force UK ISPs to show warning pages for unlicensed gambling websites has also been foiled by the ISPs.
India is also not very far away from these legal restrictions. According to Praveen Dalal, partner at New Delhi based IT law firm Perry4Law, operating an online poker website in India may be either legal or illegal depending upon the legal compliances that such website is complying or not complying. Even the most famous poker websites in India are not complying with Indian laws to run legally sustainable poker websites in India informs Dalal.
It seems online poker websites in India are heading toward legal troubles as sooner or later the law enforcement agencies may come knocking at their doors due to their non compliance with Indian laws. Besides e-commerce related compliances, the online poker websites must also comply with gaming related laws as well. Just like Bitcoins entrepreneurs, online poker websites must also comply with Indian laws to remain legal.
There are many foreign companies that are contemplating entering into Indian online gaming and gambling market. They are also experimenting with virtual currencies like Bitcoins. Recently Cubeia declared that it would support Bitcoins for its business to business poker network. If Cubeia wishes to enter into Indian market, this may create legal troubles for it.
The time ahead for Indian online poker websites would be really challenging and only the most prepared would be able to encash the benefits of this upcoming field.