Is Gambling Legal in Tamil Nadu?

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Residents in Tamil Nadu will now find it difficult to gamble online as the state government recently passed a law against online gambling. Until recently, there was no problem with anyone gambling online. But since the amendment bill was approved, the game has changed.

Nevertheless, there is still no Indian law banning the act of gambling online in the country. So it’s impossible to stop gambling websites from operating. This means that these online casinos and betting sites are still available in Tamil Nadu and anyone can access them. However, anyone caught doing so in the state may face prosecution according to the bill amendment.

To understand the scope of gambling in Tamil Nadu, let’s take a look at the different aspects.

Casino gaming in Tamil Nadu

The love for games of chance in Tamil Nadu cannot be denied. This is evident in the number of illegal betting centres in different parts of the state. One of the places you will find many of these centres is Chennai.

But apart from these centres, ‘privately organized gambling’ is also very common in the capital. These include gambling among friends and families or organizing gambling competitions through online mediums like WhatsApp. Although some people have been arrested for doing this, it has not stopped people’s love for the game.

Another area with many gamblers is Coimbatore. However, the number of gamblers here is quite low compared to Chennai. Gambling is also banned in Coimbatore but there is no doubt that people there find ways to enjoy their favourite card games such as Andar Bahar, Poker, and Teen Patti, albeit illegally.

Reading from, online Andar Bahar is a game of chance and is per se not illegal in India. However, with the ban imposed by Tamil Nadu, playing the card game has now become illegal in the state. However, up till now, no player has been arrested for playing at online casinos. Regardless of this, anyone playing online casinos is doing so at their own risk.

However, there’s one card game that stands out – Rummy. In 1967, the game was confirmed to be a game of skill. But in 2012, it was declared illegal because it involved real money betting and was played at gambling houses. According to, in 2015, the legality of Rummy was revisited and made legal. Nevertheless, it can’t be played online or at gaming houses.

Horse racing in Tamil Nadu

Interestingly, betting on horse racing remains legal in Tamil Nadu. This may not be surprising to anyone who knows the history of horse racing in India. The oldest racecourse in India, the Guindy Racecourse, is located in the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.

In addition to that, the Ooty Racecourse is also located in The Nilgiri Hills, a mountainous region of the state. The Guindy Racecourse and the Ooty Racecourse host many of the very popular horse racing events in India.  It will be strange to declare betting on horse races illegal considering that the state is home to two of the biggest horse racing facilities in the country.

Thus, Tamil Nadu residents can bet legally on horse racing events as long as they are present in the state. The activity was confirmed legal in the 1935 Tamil Nadu Betting Tax Act.

Sports betting in Tamil Nadu

Betting on sports is considered illegal in Tamil Nadu, except for horse racing which was declared as a game of skill by the Indian Supreme Court. Nonetheless, underground sports betting, especially on Cricket is widely popular in the Tamil Nada.

Another underground form of gambling is betting on cockfights. In fact, in the whole of India, betting on several animal fights and competitions is popular in rural areas.

One of the TN small cities where these cockfights take place well is Karur. The city is known for holding large cockfights events. But it is important to note that the cockfights are in themselves not considered illegal. The fights are permitted as long as there is approval from the district administration. Nevertheless, betting on the fights is still an offence just like other forms of gambling.

Final thoughts

The state government has been focused on apprehending people organizing illegal physical gambling. But with these new bill amendments, it is clear that they will also be going after people gambling online.

It is rather unfortunate that instead of regulating online gambling to enjoy its advantages, the state decided to ban it. Nevertheless, with the changing gambling landscape in the country, there might just be a difference in the attitude towards online gambling across all states, including Tamil Nadu.

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