Is Online Poker Legal in India?

online poker india legal

Indian online gaming fans know that slots are the most popular game in the industry. That’s not a surprise anymore. They’re fun, rewarding, and constantly blur the line between them and video games. Just play a bonus round or two and you know what we mean. However, when it comes to online casinos, you never forget the classics. Among them are roulette, blackjack, and every Indian’s favorite game – online poker. But, is online poker legal in India to play?

Online poker’s legal status around the world is spotty, to say the least. Some countries allow it, others are waiting on legislation. There are also countries that outright ban poker games on the web, leaving players no choice but to play offshore or on illegal tables. What’s India’s take on this?

Continue reading below to learn if online poker is legal in India.

The Legal Status of Online Poker in India

For those who don’t know, online gambling is a bit of grey area in India. The law neither permits nor forbids online casinos, leaving a hole in the market. While gambling is a punishable offense, the outdated Gaming Act of 1867 mentions nothing about the Internet, which is normal for that age. Legally, you shouldn’t be gambling online in India, yet offshore casinos are quite popular. The law can’t do anything to stop their progress unless the Gaming Act is updated.

It’s similar with online poker. While it’s not explicitly forbidden, there are some states which have opted against it, most notably Gujarat, Orissa, and Assam. While skill-based games are generally permitted by the law, you can’t play online poker legally across the country. Which isn’t to say that players can’t play it in international casinos.

Just like they play slots, they can try their luck and skills in poker too. Offshore casinos are full of thousands of games including dozens of poker variants. With the law unclear when it comes to online gambling in general, you can safely play any game of poker without looking over your shoulder. Of course, if you’re playing at a dedicated poker site/room, you should ensure that your state allows it.

What Does the Law Say?

There have been a few High Court decisions in certain Indian states on the matter of legal online poker play in India. For example, the High Court of Karnataka in 2013 allowed poker games to be played recreationally in clubs since it’s a game of skill. All forms of skill-based gambling are legal in India including rummy, so it would be a shame if poker was not live.

The Calcutta High Court directed the police not to interfere at poker games in 2016. It decided that games of skill should be excluded from the general law. The question was raised in 2019 once again and upheld. And while those states have made poker legal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh have banned it.

After these states legally banned poker in early 2020, Karnataka has changed sides and may follow suit. To be honest, the state is asking for a ban on all kinds of gambling, so it’s not just online poker. If the law is passed, offshore casinos won’t go live in those regions.

Still, there’s no blanket ban on poker or online gambling in India as a whole. It means that you can play the game legally at offshore sites without thinking twice.

Is Playing Online Poker in India Safe?

Yes it is as long as you choose a reputable casino. That’s the thing with online gambling in India. Since it’s not regulated, you can’t rely on the law to protect you in cases something goes awry. Yes, offshore casino sites are legit, but you don’t have any legal protection if you fall into a scam trap.

And it’s getting harder and harder to find the right casinos. The market is oversaturated and there are hundreds of sites to pick from, but unfortunately, they’re not all legal. Luckily, we’ll give you a few tips on how to find the right casino and player poker legally in India.

Check the License

Before you even think about joining an online casino with poker games, make sure it’s legit. Licenses from the government of Curacao, MGA, and UKGC are widely considered the best. Offshore casino sites licensed by these governing bodies are legit and offer legal online poker in India that you don’t have to worry about.

Check the Safety Measures

It’s 2022 and SSL encryption at the very least is a must for casino sites. Whether they offer poker games or not, they should be encrypted. This means that they process your data safely and over private servers so it doesn’t end up stolen.

Variety of Games

Poker fans love it when there are dozens of variants on offer. Make sure to find a casino that has the largest variety of poker games on offer. We’re not just talking RNG video poker games. You need to find a site that pays just as much attention to live poker as well. Of course, if you’re set on playing live dealer poker, you need to make sure you have the skills. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing away your money against better competition.

What Does the Future Hold?

No one can tell what happens with online poker and online gambling in India in the years ahead. Players are looking for a solution and the government is under pressure to legalize online gambling. Which is for the best, as the money spent at offshore sites will now help the country instead.

With more and more countries legalizing online poker around the world, India must join the wave sooner or later. There’s no question that Indian fans love online poker. They should stop wondering if online poker is legal in India, but the government needs to act soon.

Once it does, it will open the floodgates to numerous poker games and tournaments that will give the frail economy a fantastic boost.