Skip to content

Online Gaming in India

Authored by - Nishith Desai Associates (Last Updated May 2024)



India Online Gaming Overview

Partially Regulated
State Governments are empowered to legislate on betting and gambling, as well as games of skill (betting and gambling are state subjects under the Constitution of India. Certain High Courts have also recognised that States may regulate games of skill), with each State having its own law (“Gaming Enactments”). Most Gaming Enactments prohibit gambling, i.e., “the act of wagering or betting” for money or money’s worth on games of chance, however, exclude games of skill from their prohibitions. There is no regulation through a licensing regime to offer games of skill in most Indian States (apart from Nagaland, and soon, Tamil Nadu). The States of Goa and Sikkim have enacted laws to regulate brick and mortar casinos in five-star hotels and onboard ships.

At the central level, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“MeitY“) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports have been appointed as the nodal ministries for online gaming and e-sports respectively. Furthermore, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (“MIB“) has been given authority over internet ads, and such authority may extend to gaming advertisements. Previously, there was no Central Ministry designated for these areas.

Subsequent to the foregoing, the MeitY had enacted central regulations, especially for real money gaming, via amendments (“2023 Amendments“) to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (“IT Rules“) on April 6, 2023. The 2023 Amendments sought to establish a light-touch, co-regulatory framework between MeitY and designated self-regulatory industry bodies (“SRB“), consistent with the government’s general goal of eliminating prescriptive regulations and improving the ease of doing business in India. The 2023 Amendments introduced regulations for  permissible online real money games (“PORMG”), other online games, and online gaming intermediaries (“OGI”) seeking to offer PORMG. The 2023 Amendments were not envisioned to replace the State-wise Gaming Enactments, and were meant to co-exist with them.

The 2023 Amendments were to be operationalised through the designation of at least 3 self-regulatory gaming bodies. Accordingly, subsequent to their introduction, the All India Gaming Federation, the Esports Player Welfare Association, and the E-Gaming Federation (“EGF”) and the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports had each submitted three applications to be designated as an SRB. However, as per news reports, MeitY has abandoned the plan to develop SRBs for game certification, due to concerns over the heavy domination of gaming companies on such SRBs which would lead to a lack of independent decision-making. MeitY will now directly regulate the online gaming sector. Accordingly, the 2023 Amendments have not been operationalised and will likely not be operationalised. We have therefore not covered them in detail in this outline.

As per the latest news reports, an Indian university, the National Law University, Delhi, and the EGF have been consulting industry stakeholders on the regulation of online gaming in India.

Apart from the gaming enactments, Certain products are regulated under special laws, such as the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998 and the Lotteries (Regulation) Rules, 2010, (“Lottery Laws”) which regulate State Lotteries. Additionally, the Prize Competitions Act, 1955 (“PCA”) regulates certain types of competitions. Section 2(d), PCA: Prize competition means “any competition (whether called a crossword prize competition, a missing-word prize competition, a picture prize competition or by any other name) in which prizes are offered for the solution of any puzzle based upon the building up, arrangement, combination or permutation, of letters, words, or figures.”

For offshore operators, certain other laws apply to offering online games in India. For instance, the Foreign Exchange Management Act (“FEMA”) read with the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000 (“Current Account Rules”) prohibit remittances by Indian users for certain gaming activities.

Market size
As per reports, India’s gaming market size is estimated to be around USD 3.1 billion in FY 23, with the market size of online games being USD 1.9 billion, and the total gaming market size is predicted to reach USD 7.5 billion by FY 28. These reports state that this is the ‘golden age’ of gaming in India.

Revenue in FY 2023, by types of games:

Total: INR 164 billion

  • Real Money Games (“RMG”): INR 135 billion
  • Online Fantasy Sports: INR 28 billion
  • Non RMG and Esports: INR 28.3 billion

Total number of users in FY 2023: Around 568 Million 

Competitive landscape
India does not have a public registry of gaming operators, hence there are no clear market figures in terms of the number of operators. However, as per some reports, India has over 450 million online gamers and over 90 million of such gamers play real money games.

Payment methods accepted on gaming platforms in India include methods such as debit/credit cards and United Payments Interface (UPI), which is a popular real-time mobile payment method that allows users to transfer funds between bank accounts, net banking and prepaid payment instruments such as wallets. Certain gaming operators accept payment in cryptocurrency.

The most popular and prominent marketing/advertising channels in India are online/digital (through social media), print advertisement, electronic media and cable television, telecommunication services (such as SMS), and physical advertisements such as billboards/hoardings.

Top Key Attractions and Challenges

  • Games of skill are permitted to be offered for money in most states in India, and several game formats such as fantasy sports and real-world games such as chess, Ludo, and Rummy have a large number of players in India. As detailed in ‘Market size’ above , the number of users and the revenue from gaming has been promising and continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Since 2021, India has seen 3 gaming unicorns (Dream Sports, Games 24×7, and MPL) and 1 successful IPO (Nazara Technologies). Hence, investments and joint ventures with Indian skill gaming companies may present a lucrative opportunity.
  • Casual Games: Casual players make up over 90% of the players in India, at around 442 million in 2023. At present, there are very limited regulations for casual games in India, i.e., free-to-play games without any deposit nor any real money winnings. These games do not attract the definition of ‘gaming’ under most Gaming Enactments and hence do not attract the applicability of these laws in most Indian States.
  • India’s large, youth population: India’s population as of 2021 stands at 1.38B. At 15B installs of gaming apps, India had the highest share of game downloads at 17% globally in FY 22. The number of gamers in India stood at 507M in FY 22, growing at a CAGR of 12% from 450M in FY21. Out of the 507M, the amount of paying gamers stands at 120M, growing at a CAGR of 25%. In addition to being the second most populous country, India has one of the largest youth populations in the world. This could lead to an increase in number of players in India, including those that may consider gaming and e-sports as a career option.
  • Ease of access to smartphones and the internet: India has the highest consumption of mobile data per smartphone user on a global level. This makes India a large market of people with easy smartphone and internet access to access online games.
  • Regulatory certainty on the horizon: The 2023 Amendments propose a light-touch regulatory framework in line with the government’s overall objective of reducing prescriptive laws. The government seeks to regulate the industry directly, regarding which there also have been consultations with industry stakeholders.


  • State specific nature of laws: Each state in India has its own Gaming Enactment. While most states exclude games of skill from the prohibitions under their Gaming Enactments, some States have sought to ban skill games.
  • Further, only a few State laws identify which games are games of skill (e.g., West Bengal, Kerala, and Nagaland). Judicial precedents have only recognised certain games as games of skill. There is no single machinery currently to test whether a particular game is a game of skill throughout India. These factors have resulted in State-wise uncertainty for operators. Regulation of the online gaming industry by the central Government.
  • Gambling/games of chance prohibited: In India, most Gaming Enactments prohibit games of chance or gambling for money. Games such as sports betting and most casino games are regarded as games of chance/gambling activities, and hence prohibited in most Indian States. There has been increased regulatory scrutiny of offshore sports betting and casino operators offering their products remotely in India, as discussed in the Enforcement section below.
  • High income tax rates: Tax on winnings from online games are calculated at the rate of 30% on the amount of net winnings from the online games.
  • Uncertainty with respect to GST: There has been confusion on whether GST should be charged at the rate of 28% or 18% on skill gaming, and whether the GST should be charged on the entire amount which a player deposits for a game, or on the platform fee only. The GST regime has been amended to levy GST at 28% on the full face value of bets deposited with online gaming operators with effect from 01.10.2023. Please see the Taxes section below for a detailed explanation of the amendments.

As stated above, most Gaming Enactments do not regulate specific products/games, but (1) prohibit gaming/gambling, i.e., games of chance, and (2) exclude games of skill from their purview. Only certain games have been identified as games of skill under the Gaming Enactments or through court jurisprudence. We have discussed this in the product sections below.

“Gambling” or “Gaming” as per most Gaming Enactments is understood to mean “the act of wagering or betting” for money or money’s worth on games of chance, and winning prizes in terms of money or money’s worth. Hence, free-to-play / casual games do not amount to ‘gaming’ under most Gaming Enactments. Further, typically, under most Gaming Enactments “gambling” or “gaming” does not include (i) wagering or betting upon a horse-race/dog-race, when such wagering or betting takes place in certain circumstances; and (ii) lotteries. Most Gaming Enactments also exclude games of skill from their purview.

In addition, the Prize Competitions Act, 1955 (“PCA”) regulates certain types of competitions involving the building up, arrangement, combination or permutation of letters, words, or figures. In the case of R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala & Anr. vs. Union of India & Anr., the Supreme Court held that the PCA would only apply to prize competitions that were of a gambling nature. However, due to the types of games covered under the PCA (i.e., crossword prize competitions, etc., which appear to be games of skill), there is an anomaly in the scope of the PCA. The PCA regulates prize competitions in which (a) the total value of prizes offered (whether in cash or otherwise) exceeds INR 1,000 (approx. USD 12) and (b) the value of entries exceeds INR 2,000 (approx. USD 24). Any person intending to conduct such prize competitions has to obtain a licence to engage in such activities, and the details for obtaining such licences are provided in the rules framed thereunder.

Other than this, various aspects affecting the gaming industry from investments to advertisements are regulated under separate bodies of law, which we have elaborated upon under the product-specific sections.

Licensing & Regulation

Well-regulated / Unregulated (Open)

India Online Gaming Licensing & Regulation

Licence Triggers
Only six states/union territories out of thirty-six in India prescribe a licensing regime, with only 3 covering online licenses, as has been detailed below. As stated above, the verification regime for games under the 2023 Amendments is not operational, hence we have not covered that in this section.

Depending upon the type of product, and the medium...

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.


Irregular / Mixed impact

India Online Gaming Enforcement

Regulating Bodies
States with licensing regimes/permit requirements:

Goa, Daman and Diu – The Home Department, Gaming Commissioner, Government of Goa, is the licensing authority for casinos under the Goa Act. The Director (Tourism) of Daman and Diu is the licensing authority for Daman and Diu for casinos, games of electronic amusement and slot machines, under the Goa Act....

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.



India Online Gaming Marketing

There are no product-wise advertising / marketing restrictions under Indian law. Hence, we have covered the general advertising restrictions and regulations in this section.

Most gambling state enactments prohibit printing, publishing, selling, distributing or circulating in any manner any newspaper, news sheet or other document, or any news or information with the intention of aiding or facilitating gambling....

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.



India Online Gaming Fees

Application fees
Goa, Daman and Diu
The application fee is INR 200,000 (approx. USD 2,418).

The application fee is INR 500 (approx. USD 6), payable at the time of making the application.

The application fee (non-refundable) is INR 50,000 (approx. USD 600).

Tamil Nadu
The application fee is INR 1,00,000 (approx. USD 1200).


Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.



India Online Gaming Taxes

Licence taxes
There are no licence taxes in most Indian States. In the State of Nagaland, however, licensees are required to pay an amount of 0.5% of the gross revenue generated (less Service tax) as royalty. The gross revenue is the revenue earned from the conduct of the games as reduced by bonuses, discounts and cash backs given, and...

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.

Future Outlook


India Online Gaming Future Outlook

The Indian gaming industry has seen significant growth over the past few years and is expected to continue on this trajectory in the future. The forthcoming year (2023-24) looks set to be the key turning point in the evolution of the online gaming industry. The Indian Government has already taken several policy measures to enhance the growth of this sunrise...

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.

Unlock Your Free Trial

Sign up for your 7-day free trial and get access to regulatory intelligence today.

If you are subscribing to a free trial as a part of a Corporate Entity you are entitled to a further 2 free users for the 7 day free trial period. To activate this, we require the following information:
Company Address
Country of Incorporation

Legal Expert

Nishith Desai Associates

Office locations India (Bangalore / Delhi / Mumbai) / USA (Silicon Valley / New York) / Singapore / Germany (Munich)

We are an India centric global law firm with offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Munich and New York. The gaming practice at NDA has been a pioneer in the industry; and has existed almost as long as the online gaming industry has existed in India.

The team has worked on multiple innovative and out-of-the-box transactions in the gaming space, particularly cross-jurisdictional investments and entry strategies for foreign clients.  Research is the DNA of NDA, and our focus on research and academics in this space has allowed us to provide cutting-edge solutions for our clients. Our expertise on the regulatory side coupled with corporate, tax and litigation expertise has made us a go-to firm for top overseas operators and investors targeting the Indian market.

We have also been instrumental in industry-wide efforts and policy advocacy.  For example, we have led various meetings with regulators and the Law Commission of India to advocate for introducing a licensing regime for skill games in India, and to make recommendations with respect to taxation of gaming transactions.

Contact this expert

Contact India - Nishith Desai Associates

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.