Team SoOLEGAL 1 Sep 2023


Gambling has been a contentious topic in India, with a complex and evolving legal framework. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the legality of gambling in India, exploring historical perspectives, relevant laws, judicial interpretations, and recent developments. The article aims to shed light on the nuances of gambling-related regulations and their implications for individuals and businesses involved in the industry.

Furthermore, according to the renowned Black's Law Dictionary, the term 'gamble' is expounded as "to play, or game, for money or other stake; hence to stake money or other thing of value on an uncertain event. It involves not only chance, but a hope of gaining something beyond the amount played."

Gambling, as an activity involving the wagering of money or something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, has long been a part of human civilization. In India, gambling has historical roots, with references dating back centuries. However, its legal status in the country has been subject to fluctuating viewpoints and legal actions.


What is the Law which governs Gambling in India?

The Public Gambling Act, 1857 (hereinafter referred as “Act”) is a central act which governs gabling in India. However, as Gambling is a generic term, different states have enacted laws as per the power under Entry 34 of the State List as enumerated in the Constitution of India, 1950.


Is Gambling Legal in India?

The word “Gambling” is a generic term which includes many forms of the same. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in various pronouncements has held that unless the game in question is not purely a game of chance, it would not be illegal. The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in State of A.P. v. K Satyanarayana, (1968) 2 SCR 387, has held that, "The "three card" game which goes under different names such as "flush', "brag" etc. is a game of pure chance. Rummy, on the other hand, requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorised and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. We cannot, therefore, say that the game of rummy is a game of entire chance. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill." This observation by the Supreme Court has been further applied in many cases subsequently.

Also, the Hon’ble Madras HC in KR. Lakshmanan (Dr) v. State of T.N., (1996) 2 SCC 226 has observed that, "that a game of skill is distinct from a game of chance and if there is the preponderance of the skill element involved, then the concerned activity would be protected by Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution and that competitions involving a game of skill must be regarded as business activities". It was also observed with regard to game of skill that, “one in which success primarily depends upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player”  


What is a game of skill and a game of chance?

Game of Chance

Game of Skill

In a Game of Chance the result predominantly depends upon a random factor. The aspect of skill is present in these games but chance plays a critical role in success.

A Game of Skill basically means that the game in question is based on the physical or mental expertise of a player. The result of such game shall predominantly depend upon the expertise/skill the player shows during its course.


Therefore if the game in question comes under the purview of Game of Skill, PUBLIC GAMBLING ACT, 1867 does not apply and henceforth the said activity becomes legal (Subject to the specific laws in respective states in India).  For more information on this please connect with us at +98109 29455 or mail us at

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