The History of Indian Gambling: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

April 19, 2023
The History of Indian Gambling

Gambling has been an integral part of Indian culture for centuries. From ancient times, Indians have indulged in various forms of gambling, ranging from dice games to card games. This article aims to explore the history of Indian gambling, tracing its evolution from ancient times to the present day.


Gambling has been a part of Indian culture for ages, with references to it dating back to the Vedic period. Over time, gambling has evolved, with new games being introduced and old ones being modified. In this article, we will explore the different forms of gambling in India and how they have changed over the years.

Ancient India: The Roots of Indian Gambling

Gambling in India can be traced back to the Vedic period, which dates back to around 1500 BCE. Back then, gambling was an integral part of religious ceremonies and was seen as a way to appease the gods. The most popular form of gambling during this period was dice games, which were played using cowrie shells.

Medieval India: A Shift in Attitudes

During the medieval period, attitudes towards gambling began to change. While gambling was still popular, it began to be seen as a vice rather than a religious ritual. Despite this, gambling continued to thrive, and new games were introduced, such as chaupar, a board game similar to modern-day Pachisi.

Colonial India: The Rise of Western-Style Gambling

With the arrival of the British in India in the 17th century, gambling in India underwent another shift. The British introduced new forms of gambling, such as horse racing and card games, which were popular in Europe. These games quickly caught on in India, and soon, Indians began to develop their own versions of these games.

Independent India: Gambling in the Modern Era

Today, gambling is a popular pastime in India, with millions of Indians engaging in various forms of gambling every year. Despite this, gambling remains a somewhat controversial issue in India, with many people advocating for stricter regulations and others arguing that gambling should be fully legalized.

Popular Forms of Indian Gambling

Teen Patti

Teen Patti is a popular card game in India, similar to the Western game of poker. The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and is usually played with three to six players. The objective of the game is to have the best three-card hand, and the winner is determined by a combination of luck and skill.

Satta Matka

Satta Matka is a form of lottery that originated in Mumbai in the 1960s. The game involves betting on numbers between 0 and 9, and the winning numbers are drawn twice a day. While Satta Matka was illegal for many years, it is now legal in some states, and millions of Indians play the game every year.

Jhandi Munda

Jhandi Munda is a traditional dice game that is popular in eastern India. The game is played with six dice, and the objective is to guess which side the dice will land on. While Jhandi Munda is a simple game, it is still popular in many parts of India, particularly in Bihar and West Bengal.

Horse Racing

Horse racing is a popular sport in India, with several racecourses located across the country. The sport has a long history in India, dating back to the colonial era, and is enjoyed by millions of Indians every year. While horse racing is legal in India, there is still some controversy surrounding the sport, particularly regarding the treatment of horses.

The Future of Indian Gambling

As India continues to modernize, it is likely that the gambling industry will continue to grow. However, it is also likely that the government will introduce stricter regulations to ensure that gambling remains a safe and fair pastime. One of the biggest challenges facing the gambling industry in India is the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework, which can lead to issues such as fraud and money laundering.

Despite these challenges, the future of Indian gambling looks bright, with more and more Indians showing interest in various forms of gambling. As the industry continues to evolve, it is likely that new forms of gambling will be introduced, and existing games will be modified to suit the changing tastes of Indian gamblers.


In conclusion, gambling has been an integral part of Indian culture for centuries, with new games being introduced and old ones being modified over time. From ancient times to the present day, gambling has undergone several shifts in attitudes and regulations, but it remains a popular pastime in India. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is likely that we will see new and exciting forms of gambling emerge, cementing India’s position as a major player in the global gambling industry.


01. Is gambling legal in India?
Gambling is a complicated issue in India, with different states having different regulations. In some states, certain forms of gambling are legal, while in others, they are not. It is important to check the local laws before engaging in any form of gambling in India.

02. What is the most popular form of gambling in India?
Teen Patti is one of the most popular forms of gambling in India, along with Satta Matka and horse racing. However, the popularity of different forms of gambling varies depending on the region.

03. What are the risks associated with gambling?
Like any form of entertainment, gambling comes with its own set of risks. These can include addiction, financial loss, and social problems. It is important to gamble responsibly and to seek help if you feel that your gambling is becoming a problem.

04. How can I ensure that I am gambling safely and responsibly?
To ensure that you are gambling safely and responsibly, it is important to set limits on the amount of money and time you spend gambling. You should also avoid gambling when you are feeling stressed or emotional, as this can lead to impulsive behavior.

05. Can I make money from gambling?
While it is possible to make money from gambling, it is important to remember that gambling is a form of entertainment, not a way to make a living. Most people who gamble do so for the thrill and excitement, rather than for financial gain.

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