Indian internet gambling laws are non-existent. Legislation never explicitly mentions gambling online. On the other hand, gambling is banned throughout most of India leading many to assume betting meets similar censure on the internet. While the government does not license internet gambling, there are no enforcement policies against it. Sikkim Super Lotto is the only legal gambling site hosted in India.
Many young people, not clear on the law and wishing to stay on the right side of it, still wish to play online games. So, India’s youth, turn to World of WarCraft, Second Life, and Ever Quest, where the lines between virtual life and real life are increasingly blurred. There these gamers have proven willing to spend considerable sums of money to buy imaginary assets with no tangible value. Only in some rare instances could this actually lead to a real life returns rather than being lost, sheer waste.
It is no secret that football players, race car drivers, and other athletes can receive incredibly valuable recognition and prizes by skillfully mastering their sports. In this modern age, we find electronic gamers are on the path to receiving similar, though much more modest, rewards. Exceptional in this, online casinos have paid out millions. But, not in India.
Gaming Hungama, one of the largest online gaming sites in India, enables visitors to play a multitude of multi-player and flash games. Winners of these games may receive “goodies”, care of whatever partnered brand is running a promotion.
Cash prizes are available, but almost exclusively to skilled games. As described by Gaming Hungama’s Manish Malik, general manager-gaming “A skill game can be defined as a web game played in a tournament format, in which an entry fee is paid to compete and money or prizes are awarded to the most skilled player or players. Elements of luck have either been eliminated or greatly reduced in the game, hence, one cannot call it [internet] gambling.”
Though players expend considerable time and effort to develop their skills, financial prizes are not designed for augmenting player income. Instead, the youngsters, generally between 18 and 25, get to settle for pride, a boost to their self-esteem, and maybe — if they are skillful enough — a few lakhs (1 lakh is worth roughly $44).
Sagar Kale, a 23-year online snooker champion refuted the notion that he and others like him are Indian’s internet gamblers. He declared, “These games are not easy to play. They require huge amounts of skill and brainstorming. At the end, there is only one winner. Neither can one refer to this as gambling, because one does not bet. In fact, people register for free.”
This policy of disavowing gambling will change over time. The internet defies the concept of borders and many foreign internet casinos already cater to Indians. Many players wouldn’t mind paying a little money in exchange to play easier games with larger and more frequent payouts.