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Is Playing Real Money Teen Patti Online Legal in Punjab?

Punjab News Express | June 16, 2021 04:15 PM

The short answer is yes with an if and no with a but, It’s complicated. However, based on the facts revealed in this article, as a Punjabi resident looking to play Teen Patti online, you would be safe.  

Introduction

The past two years there has been an explosion in real money gambling sites offering Indian residents to play Teen Patti online. This is a direct result of improved internet connections and gambling being on the rise in the country. The number of options is only expected to keep growing. Reported by several news sources, gambling in India is increasing by 27% every year.

At the same time, a couple of Indian states have taken a restrictive approach to online gambling - four to be exact. Internet gambling is officially illegal in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Taken part of the activity in these states could lead to heavy fines and possibly jailtime. Despite this, gambling and playing Teen Patti online is increasing. This is true for many states, including Punjab.   

So, what about Punjab? What do the state laws in Punjab say about Teen Patti and online gambling? Let’s have a look!

The Punjab Prevention of Gambling Ordinance

When it comes to gambling laws in Punjab, these are covered in The Punjab Prevention of Gambling Ordinance from 1978. These old and outdated laws are very restrictive. Under point 4, which mentions the penalty for being found in a common gaming-house, the following can be read:

Whoever is found in any common gaming-house playing or gaming with cards, dice, counters, money or other instruments of gaming, or for the purpose of gaming, whether for any money, wager or stake or otherwise, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.

At first glance, it looks like gambling is a big no-no in Punjab and with cards being mentioned, this would seemingly include Teen Patti. However, things are not as clear as they appear. There is a reason for Indian gambling platforms such as GamblingBaba not mentioning Punjab in their disclaimer and why popular Teen Patti sites such as LeoVegas are allowing residents from Punjab to play.

Online gambling is NOT covered in the Punjab Prevention of Gambling Ordinance

This is what it all comes down to. Similarly to the Public Gaming Act of 1867, no mentions are made about gambling over the internet. Simply because internet didn’t exist at the time the law was introduced. One could of course interpret a gaming-house being any kind of place where gambling takes place, which would include a virtual environment - a site over the internet. However, the fact remains that:

No one has ever been penalized for gambling online in Punjab

This alone speaks in favor of internet gambling not being a concern for residents in Punjab. Furthermore, in 2017, the high court of Punjab ruled Fantasy Sports Betting as a skill-based activity, which isn’t considered gambling and thus not illegal. When it comes to playing Teen Patti online, one could argue that this game too is a game of skill and therefore wouldn’t be considered gambling.

However, playing Teen Patti online at casinos is a bit more complicated than playing the game with friends and family. Let’s have a closer look.

Is Online Teen Patti Regarded as Skill or Gambling?

Playing the traditional game of Teen Patti, there is unquestionably a big factor of luck involved. However, like in any competitive poker game that is played against other players, it is also true that skill plays an important role. Those who make the right decisions, or simply make less mistakes than their opponents will be the ones winning in the long run.

However, playing Teen Patti online you will find two versions of the game. One which is played competitively and one which is played against a dealer. The latter is the most common variant to find and in this game, there is no luck involved at all. It is a 100% luck-based casino game that cannot be beaten.

Whether the high court of Punjab would come to the same conclusion is uncertain. It is also uncertain if we will ever receive an answer to this, seeing that no one from Punjab has been faced with any charges for playing casino games online. 

Conclusion

As online Teen Patti is becoming more and more of an option in India, an increasing number of Punjabis are looking to play it for real money over the internet. While the legality of doing so is best described as a grey-area, there is yet to be a case where the court has had a saying in it.

As of today, nothing indicates that it would be a problem for Punjabi residents enjoying a game of Teen Patti over the internet, or any other type of gambling game.

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