Are Bhutan Lotteries legal in India?

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Bhutan is a tiny nation in the Himalayan region to the east of India bordering India on South, East, and West. In the North, the country borders the Tibetan region of China. Like India, wagering and betting activities are illegal in Bhutan and are a criminal offense.

However, the Buddhist nation has carved out an exception for lotteries and the Bhutanese government regularly appoints distributors in India to distribute and sell tickets for lotteries organised by the Bhutan government.

The national lottery of Bhutan is sold in India pursuant to a Trade, Commerce, and Transit Agreement (Agreement) between the Republic of India and the Royal Government of Bhutan. Article-I of this Agreement contemplates free trade and commerce between the territories of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Republic of India.

The protocol to the Agreement on Trade and Commerce further states that for the purposes of the agreement, the term ‘free Trade and Commerce’ in Article-I shall be understood to include within its scope sale of Bhutan lottery tickets in India and the sale of Indian Government or State Lottery tickets in Bhutan subject to the relevant laws which may be in force in the territory of Kingdom of Bhutan and India, as the case may be.

In BR Enterprises v. the State of UP (1999) 9 SCC 700., the Apex Court held that in the absence of any parliamentary law, the treaty with Bhutan would be governed by the terms of the treaty itself. The Court held that the Bhutan lottery can be subject to prohibition by a State under Section 5 of the Lottery Regulation Act, 1998.

If the State prohibits sale within its State not only sale of its own lottery but every other lottery, then the sale of lottery tickets of Bhutan will have to be subjected to the laws of that State. Thus, prohibition to other lotteries will equally be applicable to the sale of Bhutan lottery.” 

Pursuant to the Lottery Regulation Act, 1998 and international treaty, Bhutan lotteries can be sold in the states where other lotteries are not banned. In other words, the Bhutan lottery is given the same status as lotteries organised by the Indian states.

The central government has the power to take action against the promoters and distributors of Bhutan lotteries for violating rules of the Regulation Act, 1998 and the regulations made thereunder. A state government can ask the central government to ban the sale of lotteries of Bhutan or any other state within its territory if it fails to comply with legal requirements. It is under this rule, the Kerala government has in the past got the centre to indefinitely ban the sale of Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries in Kerala.

Where can you buy Bhutan Lottery in India?

Bhutan lottery is sold in all states where there is no ban on the sale of lottery tickets. For list of states where lotteries are legal, you may see this post.

Who conducts Bhutan Lottery?

Bhutan Lottery Limited, a government-owned entity conducts the lotteries.

What is the procedure for claiming prizes?

The prize-winner of a lottery is required to surrender the prize-winning lottery ticket within 60 days from the draw with all necessary documents in cases of Phuensum Mid Dharim and Bumper lottery. The prize-winner of a Scratchcard shall surrender the prize-winning Scratchcard within the expiry of the scheme/30 days after the closure of the sale for Scratchcard. All prizes above Nu. 10,000 may be redeemed from the Head Office, Bhutan Lottery Limited. Prizes up to Nu. 10,000 may be redeemed from the respective Sales Agent.