A brief history of gambling in India

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Gambling has a long history in India, dating back to ancient times. In fact, gambling was a popular pastime during the Mahabharata and Ramayana eras, where it was often associated with royalty and nobility.

During the Mughal era, gambling was widespread among the ruling classes, and many of the emperors were avid gamblers themselves. It was during this time that the game of chaupar, a precursor to modern-day ludo, became popular.

Gambling continued to be a popular pastime during British rule in India, with many colonial-era clubs and establishments catering to the gambling interests of the British elite. However, gambling was largely illegal during this time, and many underground gambling operations were shut down by authorities. The Public Gambling Act, 1867 which still applies in several states was enacted during this era.

After independence, gambling was largely restricted in India, with only a few states allowing some forms of gambling, such as horse racing and lotteries. However, in recent years, there has been a growing push to legalize and regulate gambling across the country. Goa legalized casinos in the nineties.

Today, various forms of gaming for stakes are popular in India, including traditional games like rummy, and more modern forms such as online poker and fantasy sports. Games like rummy, poker and fantasy sports have been judged as games of skill not amounting to gambling.

The cultural and social significance of gambling in Indian society remains strong, with many people viewing it as a way to socialize and have fun. In states like Andhra Pradesh, thousands of crores change hands as part of traditional betting activities during festivities like Pongal.

However, gaming for stakes including addiction is a growing concern in India, with many individuals and families being negatively impacted.

Added  to this is the growing penetration of illegal online betting platforms. As a result, there is a growing awareness of the need for strict regulations.


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