What does the law say about playing online lottery in India?

Illustration of a Judge Gavel

The Legality of Lotteries Online

Are online lotteries legal in India?” was one of the first questions I asked myself when I considered to start playing. Sadly it’s not quite as easy as a yes or no answer.

As you may know the laws in different states can differ quite a bit and of course, online lotteries are no exception.

Also, outdated laws make it hard to interpret the legality of online lotteries. Let’s start with where it is 100% legal to play online lottos.

The federal government governed lotteries for a long time. Control was later given to each of the Indian states by banning all private lotteries in 1967. This made it possible for each state to make its own lotteries. First out was the state of Kerala.

It quickly became popular and many other states followed the model that Kerala state had made. So the first modern legal lotteries were created in India. As of right now, you can enjoy the following lotteries:

  • Kerala State Lottery
  • Maharashtra lottery
  • Punjab state lottery
  • Mizoram state lottery
  • West Bengal state lottery
  • Nagaland state lottery
  • Sikkim state lottery

Any state where you can find legal lotteries you can also play at top online lotteries in India. The states where lotteries are illegal are more of a grey area.

Grey Area

The question regarding legality is hard when it comes to states where lotteries are illegal. Yes, lotteries are illegal but the question is are online lotteries in India legal.

I have revised this with several experts and each has a different answer. Almost all are in favour that online lotteries are legal. The law that governs lotteries specifically regards physical lotteries in India so online lotteries are unregulated.

Now some people will say that this, of course, makes online lottery games legal whereas others will say that there is no doubt that they are illegal since the law prohibits lottos. My opinion is that online lottos are legal. The simple fact is that it isn’t regulated. If there are no rules that prohibit online lotteries how can it be illegal?

A more important fact to consider is that if the government were to take action, it would not be against you as a player. They would look at ways they can restrict the lottery sites themselves. This means you can enjoy the top online lotteries, consequence-free. 

FEMA

The Foreign Exchange Management Act or FEMA which was put in place in 1999 is the only thing that regulates participation in online international lotteries. It states that:

“In terms of Section 5 of the FEMA, persons resident in India 1 are free to buy or sell foreign exchange for any current account transaction except for those transactions for which drawal of foreign exchange has been prohibited by Central Government, such as remittance out of lottery winnings; remittance of income from racing/riding, etc., or any other hobby; remittance for purchase of lottery tickets”.

Now this might seem like participating is illegal but the fact is that the way that this law is written does not affect lotto agents or lotto bookmakers.

Lotto agents purchase tickets for you so in this case you are not actually buying tickets yourself but you are rather buying a service. This means that “remittance for purchase of lottery tickets” does not apply to you.

As for lotto bookmakers, they allow you to place bets on the outcome of each game so that isn’t a purchase of tickets either.

To put it as simple as possible, when this law was written they had no idea how online lotteries would work. The current structure of these games creates a void where the law prohibits you from buying tickets from resellers but not from services that buy tickets for you such as lottery agents.

Take a look at my How does an online lottery work if you want to know more about lotto agents and bookmakers.

The main problem with the current laws is that they haven’t progressed at the same speed as the evolution of the internet. This creates a lot of confusion regarding the legality.

The conclusion is that it is online lotteries are legal until the Indian government revises its current laws. Currently, there is an immense amount of Indians already playing online lotteries. I haven’t heard a single one that has had any problems in the form of fines or any other ramifications from government officials.

Of course, I would never suggest you put yourself at risk but playing online lotteries in India, there are no risks. Let’s say it was illegal (even though it isn’t) there are no legal consequences at the moment due to the out of date laws that are intended to regulate lotteries. The only consequence you will have is to pay taxes on your wins other than that you are completely safe.

All in all, feel free to enjoy legal online lotteries in India. Below you can find my favourites.

1.
LottoSmile

25% off your first purchase! Onlinelotteries.in Exclusive!

2.
LottoKings

Up to 50% off on your first Powerball purchase!

3.
Multilotto

Indias most popular online lottery!