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Gambling laws in Maharashtra: Know what is legal and what is not

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With a gross domestic product (GDP) of ₹32.42 trillion (around US$467 billion), Maharashtra contributes the highest to India’s GDP. Being the country's richest state, Maharashtra also plays a pivotal role in the gambling industry of India.

Its capital city Mumbai, also known as the financial capital of India, is considered to be the focal point of betting activities in the country. Interestingly, Mumbai accounts for a major share of the $150 gambling industry, with the influx coming from the illegal sports betting industry.

Gambling laws in Maharashtra

Maharashtra’s betting activities are governed under the Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, also known as the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act 1887. The state is also regulated by the Indian gambling laws of the Public Gambling Act 1867. These laws are considered to be out of date and not suitable for use in the 21st century.

As mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution, state governments have the right to form their own laws for betting and so, there are different rules for different states. 

Betting and gambling: What is legal in Maharashtra?

In Maharashtra, horse racing, lotteries and games of skill are legal in the state. People can play card games like rummy and poker and can also participate on any of the fantasy apps like Dream11 or MyTeam11 which feature real-money contests. Interestingly, online betting sites and online casinos don’t find mention in the law against gambling. Therefore, people from Maharashtra can participate in offshore online casinos.

What are the punishments for committing a crime related to betting?

Under the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, it is illegal to organise and run a gaming house. If caught, punishments include one-month imprisonment and a fine of INR 200. The second offence invites three months of imprisonment and a fine of 200 while the third-time offender will be put behind bars for six months.

Is gambling legal in Maharashtra?

The cash-strapped Maharashtra government has contemplated the proposal of legalising online betting or gaming to mobilise resources to boost its economy. According to a report in the Times of India, an NCP minister was quoted as saying that the present government was analysing what might happen if online sports betting and other forms of gambling were legalised.

Featured photo: Axville / Unsplash

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