Gaming industry is one of the most profitable industries around the world, which is also known as games or game industry. It especially refers to casinos, online gambling, but also to video game industry.
When it comes to gambling in Maharashtra, India we know that horse racing and lottery are the only exceptions, the rest of the betting and gambling forms being prohibited or having an uncertainty that doesn’t say it clear if they are or not legal to play.
Mumbai, the capital of the State of Maharashtra, runs one of the largest gambling activities in the country, with over $60 billion. Interestingly, most of the revenue comes from illegal activities. Due to this huge amount of money that comes from gambling activities, Ladbrokes tried to operate organised and legalised betting in March 2008.
It wasn’t enough because of the gambling laws in Maharashtra. People were able to do horse betting, while other types of sports were still banned because the activities were illegal.
Main Gambling Laws in Maharashtra
While other states laws don’t have clear laws for gambling websites and houses, the laws in Maharashtra are precise and keep it clear from the beginning.
The Bombay Prevention of Gambling, also known as the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling makes it clear that running a gaming house is an offence, and people who are doing it will be punished. Most of the laws related to betting focus on gaming houses. Fortunately, the punishment for running a gaming house is minor, with one month of prison and a small fine of $4. For the second offence, the prison term rises to three months, while the fine remains at $4. If there’s a third offence, the prison term is for half a year.
It’s clear that the laws in this state don’t allow gambling and operating a gambling house, both of them being considered offences. People who are present in a gambling house can also be charged. When it comes to online gambling laws in Maharashtra, the laws are ambiguous.
Lottery in the State of Maharashtra
The lottery is one of the two forms of gambling that are allowed in the State of Maharashtra, the other one being horse racing. The Lotteries Act of 1998 says that only the government and its authorised agents can print and sell the lottery tickets. The violation of this law can lead to two years in prison.
The Supreme Court decided that the state doesn’t need to request permission from the Union Government to organise state lotteries if the Parliament didn’t make any specific law on lotteries for states.
The state finance ministry warned and threatened with severe punishment for illegal promoters and distributors of lotteries. The act announces that it is mandatory for promoters to register with the deputy commissioner of lottery tax. They have to pay in advance every week an amount estimated by the deputy commissioner. Those who promote the games have to submit records to the lottery department constantly.
Horse race laws in Maharashtra
There are eight states in India where betting on horse races are permitted with a licensed bookmaker, and Maharashtra is one of them. There are specific rules that can be found in the Bombay Race Courses Licensing Act, 1912.
The Supreme Court decided in 1996 in the case of Dr KR Lakshmanan v. State Of Tamil Nadu that horse betting is legal because this activity isn’t just about chance. There is both game of chance and game of skill involved in horse betting, and this isn’t considered illegal. That’s what the Police Act of 1998 of Gaming Act of 1930 says. Because there’s also a game of chance and a game of skill in horse races, this betting activity can’t be considered gambling, so it is completely legal.
The Act announces that horse racing is a sport that depends on the special training, the stamina of the horse and the speed that can make the difference in winning the race. Also, the jockey is very important because in a race with two horses running at the same speed, having similar qualities and training capacities, the jockey’s experience will make the difference and win the race.
Horse race betting is so popular and profitable that the Government of Maharashtra earns millions of dollars from the taxes they get under The Maharashtra Betting Tax Rules of 1961 and the Maharashtra Betting Tax Act of 1925. This can be considered another reason why horse race betting is allowed in Maharashtra. The income Tax of 1961 makes betting provisions, due to section 115BB where it is established a 30% tax on all betting games, which includes horse racing winnings.
According to the Section 194BB, the winnings over Rs. 5,000, accumulated from wagering with a bookmaker that is licensed will provide a tax deduction of 30.90% at source. It will be paid to the government before the winnings are released. Betting activities like horse racing produce a lot of money for the state and the government, and they encourage it.
Poker, Rummy and other card games
Rummy and poker are among the most popular card games around the world, and also very popular in the state of Maharashtra. There are states where poker and rummy go under the games of skill, and this is the main reason why they are considered legal, but in Maharashtra, the situation isn’t clear enough to say if it’s legal to play them.
This uncertainty leads to the arrest of 17 citizens in 2012 for playing bridge and rummy, but they were released the next they and also got a reward because the Bombay High Court decided that they didn’t do something illegal.
They were arrested and charged under the laws of gambling, but both games, rummy and bridge were considered games of skill by the judges.
A lot of people in India use to play rummy, being one of the most popular games at clubs, during bus and train rides, and even at work. Most of the people play for a small stake, even if the ambiguous laws don’t make it clear if they are allowed or not to play. The Supreme Court allows the games of skills to be played under current laws, and rummy is considered a game of skill.
As we said before, rummy and poker go under the game of skills because you need practice, knowledge and pure skills to win such a game, so they aren’t considered gambling. Even if online versions of these games aren’t allowed, there are online poker and online rummy platforms that allow players from India join the games. As a conclusion, we can say that it’s legal to play online rummy and online poker in Maharashtra.
It’s well known that cricket is a popular sport in Maharashtra, and stadiums like DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai or Wankhede Stadium are always full to the maximum capacity when international and domestic games are played.
Even if people love this sport, the Maharashtra cricket betting laws don’t allow punters to place legal bets on cricket games. The laws aren’t clear when it comes to cricket betting because there’s no clear gambling definition. Some people say that cricket is also a game of skill, and being a game of skill makes it legal.
The police and the government try hard to stop the cricket betting, and there are enough reasons to do it. Illegal cricket bets are a source of black money; people don’t pay taxes, they get rich, while the authorities lose a lot of money.
Even if the online bookmakers that are based in India aren’t allowed to do cricket betting, there are a lot of betting agencies that will accept players from India. They are not restricted to place online bets, and also the government of Maharashtra doesn’t block the site’s access to stop this betting activity.
Haroon Lorgat, the CEO of the International Cricket Council asks the officials to allow online cricket betting because it will be a new source of money for the government, it will prevent corruption, and it could also stop the illegal bookies.
As a conclusion, we can say that online games like rummy, poker or cricket betting can be played in Maharashtra if you’ll use an online platform from a foreign country. Because rummy and poker are considered games of skill, they are allowed in India.