Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is It Legal To Play Online Poker In India?

Information technology is seen as an enabler by business community of India. As the use of IT in India is increasing, entrepreneurs have started exploring the cyberspace to establish new ventures like e-commerce, Bitcoins exchanges, online poker websites, etc. All this is happening without a clear cut legal framework as we have no dedicated online gaming and gambling laws and regulations in India and this field is still evolving. Although the traditional gambling in India is governed by colonial laws yet we have no dedicated laws for online gambling in India.

Similarly, there are no dedicated laws and regulations for online poker in India as on date. Further, there are no specific judicial decisions pertaining to playing of online poker in India. Both players of pokers and websites hosting the poker games are in a fix to decide whether to play and host the poker game on a website in India. Till date the position of playing online poker in India is a grey area.

Since the area is developing there are very few cyber law firms and cyber lawyers in India who can provide effective legal support and services in this regard. The Information Technology Act, 2000 is the sole cyber law of India and very few law firms and lawyers are practicing in this novel field. Even among those practicing the cyber law field, there are only handful of lawyers who can take up the matter pertaining to online gaming and gambling in India.

Online gambling laws in India are different that online gaming laws of India. Further, online gambling and gaming laws and regulations in India and conflict principles must also be kept in mind by online poker websites of India.

According to Perry4Law, the exclusive techno legal ICT law firm of India, to start with, any online poker website of India that wishes to engage in legal business must comply with Indian laws like Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Indian Information Technology Act, 2000, the Public Gambling Act, 1867, Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999, etc

Taxation, money laundering and payment gateways issues must also be taken care of by those proposing to open online poker websites in India. Further, various guidelines and rules issued from time to time must also be complied with by online poker websites of India opines Perry4Law.

The crux of the legal position seems to be that if an online poker website is following the laws of India while operating in India, it is legal to play online poker in India. However, if the laws of India are breached during such online presence both the cyber law of India and other applicable state laws may be attracted.

Online gaming industry is booming in India and it is going to be a multi billion dollar industry in India.  In order to capture this market the online poker entrepreneurs must comply with all the applicable laws of India and consult some good techno legal firm before launching their websites.