History of Gambling in India

Posted by: on Dec 20, 2013 | No Comments

Hindu Mythologies dating back to 2000BC have the mention of gambling in them. Indians have always tried to look at gambling as a viable solution to conflicts and a way to bridge the gap between friends and foe. The history of gambling in India has always been better than what it is now. Let’s have a look at the evolution, both of gambling and how its perception has changed over the years.


Kings’ Game: The age of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata was exposed to gambling according to ancient manuscripts. Between 2000BC and 1500BC, scrolls suggest that the rolling of the dice and expecting a desired result to inch towards victory with precious belongings on stake was the kind of activity that the Kings engrossed themselves in. Dices were made from a nut of the Vibhitaka tree because of its five sided characteristic. Ancient Indians considered gambling as a nice way to tingle their minds and have a hearty conversation alongside.

One generation to the next: Gambling is a game that defined Indian history in its own way. It got prominent and was adopted as a leisure sport for people who then passed it on to younger generations. Games involving animal performances like horse races became the talk of the town. Surviving multiple centuries, gambling is still the game all Indians wish to learn at some point of their lives.

–  Good times for gambling: The 15th century brought much needed structure to gambling, making it one of the most frequently played games. Gambling houses were legalized with the King entitled to a chunk of the profits made in these houses. Most of the Indian casino games today were invented during this century. Later in the 18th century, Europeans set foot in India and brought the game of Cricket along with them. Sports betting would become the next best thing as Indians used to bet thousands of rupees on the team they thought would win.

Further progressions: With cricket becoming popular in India, the betting was at an all time high till the late 18th century. It was 1867 when the British took over and gambling houses were outlawed by them, with only a few exceptions. Lotteries, horse racing and rummy were all deemed illegal. But the passion and love for gambling never died. Games became more and more user centric, played in residential streets, small towns and houses with little or large sums of money at stake.

The present day: With the turn of the 20th century, gambling became highly restricted by the Indian government. Gambling was frowned upon as something that people would get addicted to. People would lose all logic and give in to the temptation to bet beyond their means. So, the Indian government chose to take away the right to gamble. Did that really stop Indians from being entertained by this age old game? With the advent of the Internet and PCs, an increasing number of people ventured online to satisfy their gambling desires. Almost 40% of Internet users in India have admitted to spending some time on gambling… for fun and not with the intention of making pots of money.

India’s history of almost 4000 years is rich with anecdotes of gambling. The future, however, may not be as bright. Will the Indian government ever trust its people to use their judgment? After all, we are considered sensible enough to vote! Will the Indian economy ever get to benefit from the opportunities that the casino industry has created for places like Macau, Singapore and Australia?

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