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Sikkim online gaming, betting websites to go live very soon as government issues first regular license

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Exclusive After five years of ambivalence, the Sikkim government has finally issued the first regular license for starting online gaming operations to a subsidiary of M/s. Future Gaming Solutions Private Limited headed by lottery king Santiago Martin.  Kapil Khanna, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Future Gaming confirmed to GLaws.in over phone that Future Gaming has recently been issued a regular gaming license by the Sikkim government. Khanna further added that Future Gaming has been the first Provisional License (PL) holder to be awarded a regular license. Khanna also said that Future Gaming would launch its operations in the state of Sikkim very soon, possibly in the next few days.

Initially it was perceived that online gaming services could be offered across India on the basis of Sikkim licenses and PL holders were waiting for clarifications from the Central government. However it is now understood that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued a clarification to the Sikkim Finance department in April 2014 indicating that online gambling regulation also falls within the ambit of state legislatures under Entry 34 List II of Seventh Schedule (of the Constitution) as long as such gambling is restricted to the territorial boundaries of the state and online gambling services are not offered to other states/Union territories.

As per the conditions of the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 and rules/notifications thereunder, licensees would be able to offer games such as poker, baccarat, roulette, blackjack, sports betting etc. once the website goes live. It is understood that apart from Future Gaming, other PL holders are also in the process of acquiring a regular license and starting operations very soon.

It has to be noted that despite waiting for over five years for clarifications from the Central government, the Sikkim online gaming licenses have disappointed many in the gaming industry since online gaming and sports betting would have to be restricted only to the state of Sikkim (which has a tiny population and small gaming market). The possibility of offering gaming services in other states exists only if such states pass a similar law legalising online gambling or gives their consent to allowing Sikkim websites to operate within their territorial boundaries, which at present seems to be a tall order.

However, the launch of gaming websites in the state of Sikkim may prove to be an important first step in emboldening other states to pass similar legislations and may even require the Central government to step in. Inter-state pacts or agreements between the state of Sikkim and other states to offer online gaming services also cannot be ruled out.  The Indian online gaming situation now looks similar to gaming regulations in USA (where individual states are allowed to regulate online gaming within their territorial boundaries). Delaware was the first state in USA to legalise online gaming followed by Nevada and New Jersey (Delaware and Nevada have also signed an inter-state gaming pact).

In the gaming context, Sikkim seems to be the Delaware of India. Sikkim has been the first state to allow land-based casino and online lotteries and has been the most liberal in allowing almost all forms of gaming.  It remains to be seen how online gambling regulation in India will pan out post this experiment by the Sikkim government.

Jay has researched extensively on gaming laws and has been cited by various media houses and journals as an expert. He has helped leading newspapers in their stories on gaming laws. Jay completed his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from NUJS, Kolkata in 2015 and is currently based out of Mumbai.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Gaurav

    October 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    This means that if I am located in any other state other that Sikkim, I can access the site / or can’t place any bets. Basically this website is for people of only one state.

    • Jay Sayta

      October 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Yes as of now it seems that only players from Sikkim will be allowed to deposit and withdraw on gaming websites though there may be no bar on allowing residents from other states to access such sites.

  2. abhishek bansal

    October 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    hi jay,

    i have read your article on various forums and i think you are the best person who could provide inputs on this. what basis did the west bengal government take to exempt poker from the gambling act. was it contended that poker is a game of skill. if so what were the arguments. can you please throw some light. i am unable to figure out the debates. if possible can you send me the link.

    thanks

    • Jay Sayta

      October 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Abhishek,

      There is no public information available as to why the West Bengal legislature excluded poker, rummy, bridge and nap from the ambit of gambling. However, since the amendment was passed in 1976 after the Satyanarayana decision, one may infer that this was introduced because the legislature in its wisdom though these four games have a substantial element of skill.

  3. shambhu

    November 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    article is very helpful

  4. vikas

    November 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    sir how long it take to go live

    • Jay Sayta

      November 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      At least a couple of websites could go live by the end of this year.

  5. vikas

    November 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    sir

    i am a regular visitor of ur site hats off u for giving us imp. informations

    i want to know why there is no detail content of future gaming solutions on any site as it will be a game changer in india as it has first gaming license in india

    where we can confirm from which date its site go live and available for sikkim residents

  6. gaurav

    November 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    It means a person from delhi cant buy the online ticket of myplaywin

  7. suktika

    June 17, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Any idea where the clarification of the Home Ministry would be available?

  8. Sajid

    November 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I am a resident of Hyderabad and I wanted to start online game by which players can win money by winning the game.
    Can I register this game in sikkim.

  9. arka mallik

    September 12, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Online cricket betting in India legal or not if I use UK site for bet.

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