Is Betting on Cricket in India Legal?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been researching a combination of both legal sites, and cricket betting sites in India, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the question, is betting on cricket in India legal?

It’s just so hard to come to a definitive conclusion. Before I started I was of the opinion that betting on cricket in India is illegal, but there are plenty of contradictions of this view.

Before getting onto the specifics of betting on cricket in India, it is worth looking at the wider issue of betting in India in general.

Betting in India in general is a complicated issue, and one that appears to be regularly misreported in the UK. For example, in just about every TV or radio report I have ever seen or heard, it has been reported that there is a blanket ban on betting in India….. which is clearly wrong.

While it would appear totally out of the question that a mainstream UK bookmaker could turn up and open a shop on a main high street in Mumbai (if it was possible, it would surely have been done by now), it is possible to legally have a bet in India.

This can be done betting on horse races at trackside bookmakers, or pari-mutuel betting booths – both on and off course – which are managed by the Turf Authorities of India.

In addition to that, the Indian states of Goa and Sikkim are attempting to make betting in India more accessible by issuing gaming licences. Goa have recently awarded licences allowing on and off shore (cruise ships) Casinos to operate, mainly for the benefit of the tourist industry. While in the state of Sikkim, they have started to issue licences for online gambling sites, so far resulting in the creation of the PlayWin Lotto.

This shows that the usual mantra, that betting in India is illegal, is clearly wrong. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard the sweeping statement ‘that betting in India is illegal,’ and I believe that it’s this media generalisation of betting in India that has created the misconception that betting is illegal.

When it comes to the question of, is betting on cricket in India legal? Then the interpretation of the whole question of  ‘is betting in India legal’ takes on a whole new meaning.

If we work on an assumption that you can’t walk into the trackside bookmakers, or pari-mutuel betting booths, run by the Turf Authorities of India, and have a bet on the cricket, then that only really leaves you with the internet or underworld illegal bookmakers.

Working on the assumption (again), that the average well behaved Indian citizen doesn’t have – or wish to have – contact with such shifty characters as underworld bookmakers, then that only really leaves the internet.

So the question changes to, is opening an online bookmakers account in India illegal? Of all the reports on radio and TV I have heard and watched over many years now, that is never a question I have heard asked or addressed, we always get the sweeping statement that betting in India is illegal.

This is where I get really confused now, because if it is illegal to open an online betting account from an address within India, then why is it that a whole host of mainstream online bookmakers – household names like William Hill, Bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, etc – are happy to accept customers from within India?

In the past, when online gambling was outlawed in the USA, under George W Bush, the bookmakers quickly withdrew their products from America en mass. Also, all the online bookmakers on this cricket betting website have a list of countries and territories where they won’t accept accounts from. They include countries like Germany, France, Italy, North Korea, Iran, etc, but not India.

This suggests to me that the bookmakers do take their legal responsibilities seriously, otherwise why would they go to the bother of banning customers from all these other countries? This says to me that they have done their legal homework, and as a result, are happy to accept Indian customers.

I’m still not certain online betting in India is legal though, there is just so much contradictory theory to this.

One theory I have is that maybe they believe it is a grey area of law in India, open to being challenged. I recently read a piece on a legal website that general gambling (in India) is outlawed because it is not considered a skill.That surely leaves the interpretation of ‘is it a skill’ open to challenge, as an individual could surely argue that picking a winner is in fact a skill?

Again, working on the interpretation of the law theory, I recently read that there are no specific rules regulating online gambling in India (not sure how accurate this theory is), but if it is true, then surely that means the interpretation of the law needs confirming, but again, surely it could be open to legal challenge?

I’m fairly sure that the bookmakers have sought professional advice about the legal consequences, or any risks involved in taking bets from India. It could be that the legal advice has told the bookies that it is technically legal to accept customers from within India, or it could be that the advice told them that it is open to interpretation.

What I am fairly sure of, is that the bookmakers have been told it’s not illegal, I just don’t see them ignoring Indian law in such a manner.

Reading between the lines if it was me, I would say that if you want to play things ultimately safe, then you just don’t do it. You might be breaking the law, you might not.

Ultimately it is a question for the individual involved. If you live in India and want to open an online bookmakers account, you need to be aware of any potential consequences (if any), and take an informed decision of your own.

This article isn’t to say it is legal or illegal, it is merely just pointing out some of the contradictions involved with the issues of betting in India.

Celkon Mobile Cup Betting – The Final

After trading at odds on favourites earlier in the competition, West Indies don’t even make the final. This tournament has basically now turned on it’s head as India make a late charge and look to add another trophy to their ODI repertoire.

India are now the online bookmakers favourites, the betting odds for the final are India 8/15 – Sri Lanka 6/4.

The Indian comeback is quite remarkable really, a few days back they looked dead and buried in this competition. There is even a possibility that their inspirational leader MS Dhoni could be back today, according to reports he is touch and go to play.

Personally I think it may be in India’s interests to see how they play a big match without him, to see if they are over dependant on him or not – but that’s just my view.

The weather shows there is a possible shower in the air today, although conditions are expected to be better today after the recent rain interruptions (bare in mind all three of the matches so far in Port-of-Spain have been won by the team batting first and under the Duckworth/Lewis method).

Celkon Mobile Cup Betting – Sri Lanka V India

Thanks to their bonus point against Sri Lanka, West Indies currently sit top of the table with 9 points (teams get 4 points for a win, or 5 points for a win with a bonus point).

Sri Lanka and India both have zero points, and as a result of this, today’s match is already almost a must win for both teams.

There was a great finish to the game between West Indies and India on Sunday, with India pushing West Indies really close after it initially looked like a walk in the park for the Windies.

I’m not sure whether the comeback was down to India’s ODI ability, or just simply West Indies making a pig’s ear of what should have been a reasonably comfortable run chase

Anyway, West Indies got there in the end, and as a result they are now the online bookmakers 11/10 favourites to win the trophy outright.

Onto today’s game and India are favourites. The bookmakers have India at 4/7, and Sri Lanka 11/8.

Punters in India wishing to bet on the match can do so with William Hill, as they accept customers registering from Indian addresses, you can read more about betting in India here at bettingsites.co.in

This is the last of the games at Sabina Park, Jamaica (the rest of the tournament is played at the Queen’s Park Oval, in Trinidad), and it gives Sri Lanka an immediate chance to avenge their ICC Champions Trophy semi-final defeat to India.

MS Dhoni is out of this game and the rest of the series, so it will be interesting to see how India cope without him. Dhoni is by far India’s most experienced ODI performer, so in a funny kind of way his absence might not be the worst thing to happen as it could be an interesting opportunity for Duncan Fletcher to judge how his less experienced players cope without their leader – and maybe identify Dhoni’s eventual successor.

The two games so far at Sabina Park have been won by the chasing side, and neither match produced masses of runs. The side that wins the toss should bat second if they are going on previous results, so expect a massive price swing in the odds after the toss.

As I mentioned above, the outright tournament betting see West Indies as 11/10 favourites. India are currently second favourites at 11/8, and Sri Lanka the outsiders at 4/1.