How Do Casinos Make Money? And Is It Legal In India?

Casinos, with their bright lights, captivating sounds, and thrilling games, have been synonymous with entertainment and opulence for decades. These establishments offer patrons the chance to test their luck and potentially walk away with significant gains. But, it's not just the gamblers who stand to make money. Casinos are in the business of profit, and they do so quite efficiently. Let's dive deep into how casinos operate profitably and then switch gears to understand their legal status in India.

The Casino Business Model:

  1. The Edge of the House:
    At the core of any casino's income is the 'house edge'. This term refers to the mathematical advantage the casino has over players in the long run. While the outcome of any individual bet might be uncertain, the odds are skewed in the casino's favor.

For example, in European roulette, there are 37 numbers, but if you bet on a particular number, the casino only pays 35 to 1. So, over time, the casino will keep about 2.7% of all money bet on European roulette. This percentage varies from game to game, ensuring the casino always turns a profit.

  1. Compounding of Bets:
    Games in casinos are fast-paced. Players often place multiple bets within an hour. This rapid pace, combined with the house edge, ensures that the casino's profits accumulate swiftly.
  2. Attractions and Diversions:
    Casinos often offer more than just gambling. High-end restaurants, shows, and other forms of entertainment entice visitors. These amenities, while often seeming like they're offered at a bargain, are yet another way the establishment ensures a steady income.
  3. Player's Psychology:
    Casinos are designed to keep players engaged. From the lack of clocks and windows ensuring gamblers lose track of time to free drinks keeping them seated, everything is meticulously planned. The longer a player stays, the more they're likely to lose.

Is Gambling Legal in India?

India, with its diverse cultural, religious, and legal frameworks, has a complex stance on gambling.

  1. Legal Provisions:
    The Public Gambling Act of 1867, a central law, prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. However, the constitution of India grants individual states the authority to frame laws regarding gambling. As a result, many states have their legislation related to gambling activities.
  2. State-run Lotteries:
    Some states like Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, and a few others have legalized state-run lotteries. These lotteries are regulated and provide significant revenue to the state coffers.
  3. Casinos in Goa, Sikkim, and Daman:
    Goa and Sikkim have gone a step further and permitted casinos. Goa permits both onshore and offshore floating casinos, while Sikkim has land-based and online casinos. Daman also has permission for onshore casinos but hasn’t seen much development in this direction.
  4. Online Gambling:
    The domain of online gambling remains largely unregulated. However, Sikkim offers licenses for online gambling, setting it apart. Otherwise, the absence of concrete laws around online gambling has led to a surge in offshore online casinos catering to Indian players.
  5. Sports Betting:
    While most forms of sports betting are illegal, horse racing stands as an exception. It's considered a game of skill and thus permitted. Some recent debates suggest that games like cricket might also be categorized as skill-based, but this remains a controversial topic.
  6. Rummy and Poker:
    Games of skill, as opposed to games of chance, have found more acceptance in India. For instance, Rummy is widely played and considered legal. However, poker's status varies with states, with some accepting it as a game of skill and others contesting it.


Casinos are finely-tuned money-making machines, ensuring that while some players might win big, the house always has an edge. In India, the casino landscape is a mix of traditional values, regional choices, and a rapidly changing online frontier. As the digital landscape evolves and societal norms shift, India's stance on casinos and gambling might undergo further transformations. For now, it remains a patchwork of laws that gambling enthusiasts need to navigate carefully.

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