Gambling laws in Karnataka are getting more and more baffling. While most types of gambling have been illegal on the Indian territory for quite some time now, a few others, such as horse racing, lottery and online casinos remain in a grey area.
This article will answer any questions you might have regarding the gambling laws in Karnataka, while also suggesting legal ways to play.
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With a centuries-long history of gambling, India and its people are no strangers to laying odds. What started out as a form of entertainment has quickly become more than a pastime and, as society developed, gambling turned into a source of income for many. For centuries, Indians enjoyed playing these games without any gambling laws to regulate them.
While the British ruled over the Indian subcontinent, they enacted the country’s first gambling law somewhere around the mid-1800s. This was to become known as The Public Gambling Act of 1867, the first law in India to ban gambling almost completely.
As is the case in many states in India, the gambling laws in Karnataka are not necessarily friendly. Putting it in a nutshell, gambling is prohibited in Karnataka.
At the moment, there are two laws regulating gambling in India, both old and implicitly kind of outdated: The Public Gambling Act, 1867, which we already mentioned earlier and The Karnataka Police Act, 1963.
The Public Gambling Act was set to discriminate what were considered to be games of sheer luck (which it made illegal) from games that require a certain set of skills from the player or other parties involved, such as horse racing, poker and rummy (which it made legal).
However, local organizers of any of these games have to be registered under the Karnataka Co-operative Societies Act or the Karnataka Societies Registration Act. If you want to play a legal casino game in Karnataka’s capital, Bengaluru, you can enjoy games such as rummy or poker at registered vendors all around the city.
The Karnataka Police Act, on the other hand, forbids organizing and running illegal betting (including sports betting) or gaming-houses.
How about lotteries? Well, although the aforementioned Act doesn’t include mentions of lotteries, they are entirely illegal in Karnataka. Talk about confusion! But there are some methods you can use in order to play the lottery. The most obvious one is travelling outside of Karnataka.
The second and easier one would be to make use of a lottery site. Now, you might wonder how do these laws regulate online gambling. Here’s some great news: they don’t. Because of how old these two Acts are, none of them acknowledges online gambling. So does it mean that online gambling is legal in Karnataka? Well, technically yes. For now.
Unfortunately though, as of 2021, this will probably change. Let’s get into that…
Until recently, if you wanted a complete gambling experience in Karnataka, without the fear of getting in trouble with the law, the place to go was definitely online. Offshore companies could offer gambling services, including games like blackjacks, slots, roulette and baccarat to Indian players. That’s as long as the online casinos accepted Indian Rupees.
However, in the past year, the government mentioned that there is a proposal in the works to change the gambling laws in Karnataka. They plan to implement a ban on all types of online gambling in the state.
According to the publication Times of India, the Karnataka government is still hesitant about taking a firm stand on online betting and gambling. It is even possible that the state could actually rectify the law to rather regulate the online gambling market, similar to what has previously happened with the gambling laws of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu.
To sum it up, the gambling laws in Karnataka are still not a settled aspect in India’s legislation. There are a lot of regulations that need to be adjusted and brought into the present day. But until then, hopefully, this article managed to throw some light on the matter. And who knows, maybe the odds will turn in our favour!