Gaming Laws in India

gaming laws in india

Are gaming apps legal in India?  With the rapid growth of digital technology and the increasing popularity of online gaming, the regulatory framework governing this sector has come under significant scrutiny. Gaming laws in India, The Public Gambling Act of 1867, a colonial-era statute, remains the cornerstone of gaming legislation. However, it does not explicitly address online gaming, creating a grey area that has been further complicated by varying state laws.

The legal status of gaming apps in India hinges on the distinction between games of skill and games of chance. The Supreme Court of India has consistently upheld that games involving a substantial degree of skill are not considered gambling and thus are legal. However, the interpretation of what constitutes a game of skill versus a game of chance varies across jurisdictions. As a result, businesses and individuals involved in the gaming industry must navigate a complex and dynamic regulatory landscape, necessitating a thorough understanding of both central and state-specific gaming laws in India.

Legal Framework for Gaming in India

The legal framework for gaming in India is primarily governed by the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which is a central law prohibiting gambling in India. This act, however, does not explicitly cover online gaming, leading to a regulatory gap that is often filled by state-specific laws.

Public Gambling Act, 1867

The Public Gambling Act, 1867, prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. It does not distinguish between games of skill and games of chance, leading to interpretations that favor games of skill as legal. However, this act does not adequately address the nuances of online gaming regulations in India, necessitating additional state-level laws and recent amendments to cover the online gaming sector.

Distinction Between Games of Skill and Games of Chance

In India, a significant legal distinction is made between games of skill and games of chance. Games of skill are generally exempt from the prohibitions of gambling laws. The Supreme Court of India has consistently held that competitions where success depends on a substantial degree of skill are not gambling. This distinction is crucial for online gaming industry guidelines in India, as many online games, like fantasy sports and rummy, are categorized as games of skill.

The legality of online rummy has been a contentious issue, with multiple court cases challenging its status. The Supreme Court and various High Courts have ruled that rummy is a game of skill, thereby exempting it from gambling prohibitions. However, state laws continue to pose challenges, as seen in Tamil Nadu’s attempts to ban online rummy.

Key State Legislations Impacting Gaming

Several states in India have enacted their own laws to regulate gaming and gambling. For instance:

  • Maharashtra: The Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887, explicitly prohibits all forms of gambling.
  • Goa, Daman and Diu: The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, permits certain forms of gambling in licensed casinos.
  • Nagaland: The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016, allows online gaming involving skill-based games.

These state-specific laws create a complex regulatory environment for the legal framework for online gaming in India, necessitating careful navigation by gaming operators to ensure compliance.

Online Gaming Regulations

The online gaming regulations in India have evolved significantly to address the growing popularity and complexities of the online gaming industry. These regulations aim to provide a clear framework for operators and players, ensuring that the industry operates within legal boundaries while protecting the interests of consumers.

Evolution of Online Gaming Regulations in India

Public Gambling Act, 1867

The Public Gambling Act, 1867, is one of India’s earliest attempts to regulate gambling activities, introduced during British colonial rule. It was primarily aimed at prohibiting and penalizing the operation and management of public gambling houses, reflecting the social and moral stance against gambling prevalent at the time. 

The Act made it illegal to run or be involved in public gaming houses, with penalties including fines and imprisonment. However, the Act did not address private gambling activities and was enacted long before the digital age, thus lacking provisions for online gaming or any form of digital betting, which has become a significant aspect of the gambling industry in modern times.

State Legislation

  • Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016: This was one of the first state laws to specifically regulate online gaming, distinguishing between games of skill and games of chance. The Nagaland Act provides licenses for online games of skill such as poker and rummy.
  • Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008: Sikkim was a pioneer in regulating online gaming, issuing licenses for both online sports betting and games of chance, though later amendments restricted these licenses to intra-state players.

Central-Level Developments

  • Information Technology Act, 2000: The IT Act includes provisions that indirectly impact online gaming, particularly around cybersecurity and data protection. However, it did not initially have specific provisions for online gaming.
  • Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021: These rules under the IT Act imposed significant obligations on intermediaries, including those operating online gaming platforms. The rules mandate due diligence, data protection measures, and content regulation.

2023 Amendments to the IT Rules

The online gaming regulations in India were updated with the 2023 amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. These amendments introduce several key provisions:

  • Classification of Online Games: Online games are now classified into those involving wagering and those that do not. This helps in applying targeted regulations, with stricter oversight on wagering games.
  • Self-Regulatory Bodies (SRBs): SRBs are mandated to ensure member platforms adhere to guidelines, certify games for compliance and maintain fair play standards.
  • Due Diligence and Compliance: Gaming intermediaries must conduct due diligence to ensure games do not involve wagering unless permitted by state laws and meet compliance standards.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Platforms must have a grievance officer to address user complaints efficiently, ensuring consumer protection.
  • Transparency in Advertising: Clear terms and conditions must be stated in advertisements, prohibiting misleading claims of guaranteed winnings.
  • Prohibition of Harmful Content: Platforms must prevent and remove harmful content, including violence, discrimination and illegal activities.

These amendments aim to create a safer, transparent environment for the online gaming industry guidelines in India, fostering trust and sustainable growth.

Challenges and Legal Issues

The gaming laws in India present various challenges and legal issues for the online gaming industry. Navigating these complexities is essential for operators to ensure compliance and sustainable growth.

Common Legal Challenges Faced by the Gaming Industry in India

  • Ambiguity in Laws: The distinction between games of skill and games of chance often leads to legal ambiguities. While games of skill are generally permitted, games of chance are considered gambling and are prohibited. This lack of clarity can result in legal disputes and regulatory hurdles for online gaming operators.
  • State-wise Regulations: Different states in India have their own regulations for gaming, leading to a fragmented legal landscape. This diversity creates challenges for operators who need to comply with varying state-specific laws, in addition to central regulations. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have stringent laws against gambling, which can impact online gaming operations.
  • Consumer Protection Issues: Ensuring consumer protection is a significant challenge. This includes safeguarding against fraudulent activities, protecting user data and providing clear information about game rules and risks. Operators must implement robust measures to address these concerns and maintain user trust.


The gaming industry in India is on remarkable growth, driven by technological advancements and increasing internet insights. However, the legal landscape for gaming, especially online gaming, remains complex and challenging. Understanding the distinction between games of skill and games of chance, navigating the central and state-specific laws and adhering to the evolving regulations are crucial for operators, developers and players alike. As the industry continues to evolve, staying informed and compliant with new regulations will be essential to utilize the full potential of the Indian gaming market.

Expert Legal Guidance for the Gaming Industry

Navigating the intricate legal landscape of the gaming industry in India requires expert guidance and a thorough understanding of the regulations. Burgeon Law, with its extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of gaming laws, is well-equipped to assist operators and developers in ensuring compliance and maximizing opportunities. Whether you are launching a new gaming platform or looking to expand your existing operations, Burgeon Law can provide the legal expertise you need to thrive in this dynamic and fast-growing industry. 


1. What are the primary gaming laws in India?

The primary gaming laws in India include the Public Gambling Act, 1867, which prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling industry. Additionally, various state-specific laws regulate gambling and gaming activities within their jurisdictions. The distinction between games of skill and games of chance is crucial, with the former being generally permissible under Indian law.

2. How does the Public Gambling Act, 1867, affect online gaming?

The Public Gambling Act, 1867, primarily addresses physical gambling establishments and does not explicitly cover online gaming. This gap has led to the development of state-specific regulations and recent amendments aimed at addressing online gaming. States have their own interpretations and laws that fill this gap, influencing the regulatory landscape for the India gaming industry laws.

3. What are the key provisions of the 2023 amendments to the Information Technology Rules for online gaming?

The 2023 amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, classify online games into wagering and non-wagering categories, mandate the establishment of self-regulatory bodies (SRBs), require due diligence and compliance from gaming platforms, enforce robust grievance redressal mechanisms and prohibit misleading advertisements. These updates aim to create a safer and more regulated environment for the India gaming industry laws.

4. How do the recent amendments affect consumer protection in online gaming?

The recent amendments enhance consumer protection by mandating transparency in-game operations, requiring clear disclosure of terms and conditions and implementing robust grievance redressal mechanisms. These measures aim to protect users from fraudulent activities and ensure that gaming platforms operate fairly and transparently, aligning with Indian gambling laws.

5. What challenges does the gaming industry in India face due to legal ambiguities?

The gaming industry in India faces challenges such as legal ambiguities regarding the classification of games of skill versus games of chance, varying state-specific regulations and the rapid evolution of technology. These challenges can result in legal disputes, regulatory hurdles and difficulties in ensuring consistent compliance across different jurisdictions, complicating the landscape for India gaming industry laws.


Contact Us

    burgeon law white logo


    As per the rules of the Bar Council of India, law firms are not permitted to solicit work and advertise.

    By clicking the “Agree” button and accessing the website, the visitor fully understands and accepts that the contents herein are solely for informational purposes and should not be interpreted as solicitation or advertisement. The firm is not liable, in any manner, for the consequences of any action taken by a visitor relying on materials/ information provided on the website. The firm urges visitors to seek independent legal advice for any legal issues.