Are Online Casinos Legal in India?
Moves from big international casino brands to welcome Indian players followed a state (Sikkim) making online gaming legal in 2009.
Like in many countries, the prevailing laws predate the internet. The constitution makes it illegal to run a ‘Common Gambling House’ inside India. With the gambling sites not located inside the country, the law does not apply. There is no legislation aimed at players – which means enjoying real money casino games online does not break any Indian laws.
The central government has divested authority over gambling to individual States. There is a big contrast in how this power is used. Some States (Goa, Daman and Sikkim) allow live casinos, while others explicitly ban any form of gambling. This does not stop millions of Indians enjoying a bet or casino games – with a big respected online gambling portals.
More recently, some sites have stopped accepting bets from Indian players. A report sent to the central government from the All India Gaming Federation’s office has questioned whether any laws on the movement of money are being broken.
Are Casino Winnings of Indian Players Taxed?
Yes, as an Indian resident you are required to pay 30% of all gambling winnings as tax. This is non-deductible – meaning that you can’t offset gambling losses against your tax bill.
Online casinos based outside of India do not usually deduct this tax from your withdrawal. This means that it is the individual player’s responsibility to declare winnings to the tax authorities. This helps to explain why highly visible deposit and withdrawal methods are not favored by Indians – with electronic wallets and prepaid options preferred.
Casino Deposit and Withdrawal Options for Indian Players
The quickest and easiest way to deposit at an Indian online casino is to use your Visa or MasterCard credit card. Some players prefer not to alert their bank of gambling transactions, while many players do not have a card to deposit with. This has led to a lot of innovative deposit and withdrawal methods becoming available.
Prepaid Cards: These are a great alternative for players that don’t want to use their own card. You will need to pay a small fee to the issuer.
Neteller / Skrill: These are electronic wallet services. They work in a similar way to PayPal (which is not available to gambling deposits in India at the moment). You upload funds to an online wallet, then use this wallet to deposit and withdraw casino funds.
Virtual Credit Cards: There are several brands such as EntroPay, that offer a ‘virtual’ credit card (usually MasterCard). You load your account, then use this virtual card to deposit – just like with any other credit card.
Bank Wire: This is only useful for larger deposits, as the fees are bigger than with other methods. A wire will also depend on the local rules of your bank.
Bitcoin / Cryptocurrency: This secure deposit method is available at some casinos (for example Bodog India). It is fast, cheap and will often give you a better bonus deal. You will need to set up a wallet and buy your chosen cryptocurrency at an exchange first.
Indian Casino Bonus Offers
You can take advantage of many bonus deals in Rupees, though some casinos will offer their bonuses in US Dollars only. While the most common form of bonus is a simple match (usually based on your first deposit), there are plenty of extras that smart casino players can get.
Before you simply sign up for the India casino with the best sounding offer – remember that there are many factors which make a bonus good or bad. The most important for welcome bonuses is the ‘play-through’ requirement. This is the amount of times you need to gamble your bonus money before it can be withdrawn. Make sure you check this amount, plus any restricted (or weighted) games before you sign up!
Here are the main types of bonus to consider:
Welcome Bonuses: These are usually matched at 100% of your initial deposit up to around IRP 25,000. You’ll be asked to play-through your deposit + bonus amount 30+ times – before you are free to withdraw your profits. Some Indian friendly-casinos will offer this type of welcome bonus over multiple deposits.
No Deposit Bonuses: Some casinos give you real Rupees simply for signing up – no deposit needed. The usual format is to offer free spins on real money slots. There is a catch, your winnings will usually be capped. Some casinos give you a shot at winning jackpots with your free spins.
Deposit Bonus Extras: Free spins are also awarded alongside your matched deposit bonus from many Indian online casino sites. You can find casinos offering a large number of free spins for a small deposit, as many as 100 in some cases. Tournament entries and free chips to try out live dealer casino games are also given alongside your welcome bonus.
Reload Bonuses: Luck will not always go your way, and it can be useful to have a casino which offers regular bonuses for loyal players. The standard format is to offer reload bonuses, which work in the same way as the main welcome bonus. Some casinos make these game-specific, for example a special reload bonus for blackjack fans or for slots play only.
Loyalty Rewards: This type of casino bonus can have big benefits for players loyal to one brand. The idea is to reward real money gambling by awarding points. When you have collected enough of these, you can exchange them for Rupees to play real money games or further bonuses. Many casino loyalty schemes have different levels with better benefits as you move up.
Most of the India-friendly online gambling sites also run regular promotions for their players. These can involve anything from special one-off bonuses, free spins on new slots or even cash giveaways.
Which Real Money Casino Games Can I Play in India?
Indian casino fans have the best of both worlds when it comes to the slots and real money table games on offer.
How to Play Slot Games at Indian Online Casinos
Based on the number of individual games available, slots are by far the largest category of games. There are new titles coming out every month – and many firm favorites that people return to again and again.
Slots range from simple games with a single win-line over 3 reels, though to some complex games with 5+ reels, expanding wild symbols and entertaining bonus games. Add to this the number of themes (everything from Ancient history to Las Vegas to TV and Movie tie-ins) and your choice is almost endless.
My tip for new Indian online gambling fans is to try out the games in play-money mode and find the types of titles you like before moving to real money. Look out for slots from the following big software houses:
- MicroGaming: This is the longest running casino software house of all, with 450+ slots available. Check out the huge jackpots of Mega Moolah, or the multiple bonus games of Avalon 2.
- NetEnt: This online slot software includes many games themed around famous bands and movies. Many casinos offer free spins on the StarBurst (gems-based) slot game.
- IGT: This is a huge live slot producer, you can now enjoy many of their games online, including some big hits from the floors of Las Vegas casinos.
How to Play Blackjack Games at Online Casinos in India
Blackjack is the most popular casino table game. This can be found at all Indian gambling sites and has multiple (often very entertaining) variations.
What I like about online blackjack games is that the stakes start low. You can enjoy a real money game for just a few Rupees, right up to the high-roller level!
While the central concept of beating the dealer by getting closer to 21 or having a live hand when the dealer busts is true across all variations – there are many games based on blackjack with different rules.
Here are some of the things to look out for:
- Side Bets: hit 3x 7’s or ‘perfect pairs’ for a big win.
- Multiple Hands: Some online blackjack games let you play many hands at the same time
- Spanish 21: Enjoy a blackjack variation with no 10’s in the deck
- Face-Up Blackjack: How would your strategy change if you could see 2 dealer cards instead of 1?
- Zappit Blackjack: This variation lets you discard one of your 2 cards before you play
- Pontoon: This game is based on the blackjack concept, with different rules
- Blackjack Switch: Play 2 hands and swap cards between them in this innovative variant.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as enjoying blackjack is concerned. As you will see below, you can also enjoy this game with live dealers.
Blackjack is just one of many table games you will find at online casinos. Other popular games you play against the software includes baccarat, 3-card poker, casino war, red dog, craps, casino Hold’em, Caribbean Stud and depending on the casino, you might also find Flish, Andar Bahar, Paplu and Passa.
How to Play Roulette Games at Indian Casino Sites
When you play roulette online, the casino software will remember your betting between spins. Instead of needing to cover your numbers individually each time, you can simply hit ‘rebet’.
You will find several variations of roulette at all Indian casinos. These include the two main wheel variations (US and European), though are not limited to just this. Look out for French Roulette, which has a lower house edge for 50 / 50 bets. You will also find mobile phone friendly games and entertaining variations like Pinball Roulette at some casinos.
Play Live Dealer Casino Games in India
These days, more powerful devices and faster networks mean you can play online casino games with real dealers.
Games are streamed in real time from casino ‘studios’, and you can bet with your PC or via an app on your mobile device.
Blackjack and roulette are the most popular games at live dealer casinos. For blackjack, you will sit at a table with up to 6 other players from around the world. You make decisions on whether to stand, hit, split or double in turn. Roulette games are played one-to-many, you bet on your own device, before the croupier spins the wheel. The software automatically settles bets when the ball stops spinning.
Other games at live dealer casinos include baccarat and casino poker variations. In these games, there is a single hand for all the players. You decide whether to play or fold (depending on the game) on each occasion.