The legality of lottery in India is a State subject. Under the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998, the Central Government has authorized all States to formulate their own law. Accordingly, government lottery is legal in some Indian States for now and banned in the rest.
However, nothing concrete has been mentioned about online lottery as such. It puts this gambling activity in the grey zone where it is neither legal nor illegal, irrespective of the State from where it is played.
The US Powerball, Mega Millions, Mega-Sena, EuroJackpot, Euro Millions and world lotteries of the like that are held outside the country and welcome Indian lotto players are largely considered legit in India. They can be played online via ticket messenger services and lotto betting sites.
The only exceptions perhaps are the online lotteries that are owned and held privately by any resident of India. Such practices are downright outlawed.
Now, let’s delve deeper to understand the fascinating legal landscape of lotteries in India with better clarity.
Before we begin, here are 5 pointers to keep in mind:
- The lottery is largely legal in India as there is no blanket ban.
- Currently, 13 Indian States have legalized the government lottery.
- The activity is illegal in 15 Indian States and 8 Union Territories.
- Private Indian lotteries are banned, whatsoever.
- Playing international lotteries from India is not illegal.
States with Legal Government Lottery in India
The 13 Indian States to legalize the lottery are as follows:
- Arunachal Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh
- West Bengal
Each of these Indian States has its own Lottery Department usually supervised by the Finance Department, Government of India.
They have their own schemes and draws that are organized on dates and at hours that are fixed beforehand. The draws are publicly held using jumbo lottery machines that generate the winning numbers randomly.
The top prizes are distributed via the Department itself while lower-tier prizes are handed out by authorized ticket sellers. To claim a prize, a winner has to submit his ticket along with other documents that are specified in a Claims Form.
It’s interesting how some States allow the sale of lotto tickets apart from their own while others ban it completely. For instance, Kerala prohibits the sale of any other lotto ticket within the State other than their own. However, Punjab believes in widening its reach.
But one aspect generalizes all government lotteries in India irrespective of the scheme or the State organizing them: all of them are paper lotteries. You need to buy physical paper tickets from authorized sellers to participate in a draw. The selling of tickets online is banned.
Be that as it may, the concept of online lotteries isn’t new to Indian lotto lovers. In fact, an online lottery by the name of Playwin was launched by the State of Sikkim in November 2001.
However, it was soon discontinued after Essel Group (the company running it) ran into heavy debts. No other legal online lotto has been launched since.
Lottery-Banned States in India
Of the 28 Indian States, 15 have banned the lottery in India. The activity is not legal in any of the 8 Union Territories either. All of them have been listed below.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Andhra Pradesh
- Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
- Himachal Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Tamil Nadu
- Uttar Pradesh
None of these States have their own government lottery. Some of them such as Delhi that once used to run State lotteries, have now banned it.
Other States like Tamil Nadu have completely banned the sale of lotto tickets from other States as well. Meanwhile, others such as Haryana and Delhi have chosen to keep their doors open.
In a nutshell, lottery laws in India are what can be suitably termed as ‘to each his own.’
The Legality of Online International Lotteries
International lotteries are organized by foreign operators outside India, which keeps them away from the law of the land. You can participate in such draws online via lottery sites that either sell tickets or let you bet on the outcome.
Because these lotteries are not privately organized by any Indian resident, they can be termed legal. Anyway, the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998 does not specifically mention a ban on online lotteries (which is exactly why Sikkim could come up with one).
So, if we are to go back to our initial question, the right answer would be this: none of the States in India has put a ban on online lotteries although private lotteries have been outlawed. It means online world lottos can be considered legitimate and played.