In the year of 2013 it is still a widely held view that football betting is illegal in India. Indeed I formed this opinion on what I have continually read on social media, blogs, etc, and even from what I have heard reported in the spoken media.
While in a way, I believe this view is correct - in another way, I believe it isn't. Confused? Let me try and explain.
Is it possible to bet on football in India in 2013?
Strictly speaking it is illegal to operate a bookmakers in India. Whether that be for football betting, or betting in general.
There are currently regulated track side bookmakers at race courses which are ran by the Turf Authorities of India, but if a company wanted to open a high street shop in Mumbai (for example), it would be pretty much impossible.
The States of Sikkim and Goa have recently taken a stance to try and introduce more mainstream gambling. Sikkim has started accepting online gambling licence applications, while Goa have allowed offshore casino boats to operate within the State to boost tourism activities.
This shows that attempts are being made to open India up more to general betting, but it does seem to be a very slow process - and I do have to wonder how much political will is really there?
As well as these home grown efforts, some online bookmakers that operate outside of India will accept Indian customers. Even customers registering from an Indian address. Some of these bookmakers, such as Bet365, even accept deposits made in Indian Rupees.
Is Betting in India legal though?
I'm no legal expert. But would a reputable company such as Bet365 really be doing this if it was totally illegal?
Websites such as SportsBetting.net.in cover this in far more detail. They claim that while it probably remains illegal to bet online in this manner under Indian law, it is highly unlikely that the Indian authorities are going to go around rounding up hundreds and thousands of Indians known to have Bet365 accounts.
From Bet365's point of view, they can't think what they are doing is illegal. After all, they are happy to take the customers.
If it was likely to get the company into trouble, I'm fairly sure the Coates family wouldn't go there. They wouldn't want bad publicity like that for their company.
The Coates family not only own Bet365, they also own English Premier League club Stoke City. Such people don't want their names dragged through the mud for illegal activities.
Still confused? So am I in a way. You can bet in India, it is just what and where you can bet that seems to be the issue. What I am confident off though, is that it is possible to bet on football in India. Even if not strictly legal.