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The Future of the Indian Gambling Industry Is Looking Bright

The Future of the Indian Gambling Industry Is Looking Bright

India is home to 1.39 billion people, and more than 560 million of them are regular internet users. This makes the country the second-biggest online market worldwide, coming in behind China only. It makes sense India has witnessed a rise in remote gambling in recent years as more and more locals decide to take their betting action online. 

Despite the massive popularity online gambling enjoys among Indians, the regulation of the Indian casino market is quite murky and complex. The confusion largely results from the fact India comprises 28 states, and each of them has its own government and rules on gambling. Several states allow casino gaming but it generally remains illegal in the country. 

Sikkim Has Legal Online Gambling

India lacks specific federal regulations for online gambling. The only exception is the state of Sikkim where such activities are regulated under the Sikkim Online Gaming Regulation Act of 2008. Sikkim legislation allows online sports betting, keno, and table games like roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. 

In 2015, PlayWin became the first online gambling operator to receive a Sikkim betting license. With that said, the country’s government does not actively prosecute local gamblers who play at India-friendly offshore sites. Nonetheless, Indian players face other difficulties. Their Visa and Mastercard deposits often fail to go through, not to mention they might experience difficulties when accessing foreign websites.

India’s Gambling Industry to Grow by 41% by 2024

Despite these setbacks, online casinos have become hugely popular among Indian players lately. Approximately 80% of the local population admit they participate in gambling at least once per year. The market research portal Statista reports the country had more than 260 million online gamblers in 2018. If we go by predictions, this number is expected to increase to 510 million next year. Maple Capital Advisors estimates the local gambling industry was worth over $930 million in 2020 and predicts a 41% annual increase by 2024. According to the New Delhi-based company, gaming-related startups in the country currently exceed 400. The number of weekly smartphone players is also on the rise, increasing from 60% to 68% during the pandemic-associated lockdowns. Deloitte Consulting echoes these optimistic predictions in a report from January 2021 where it projects the country’s online gambling industry will grow at a 40% rate to reach the staggering $2.8 billion in 2022. 

India Accounts for Over 15% of the Global Online Gambling Traffic

The country has arrived at a point of inflection when it comes to remote gaming as it accounts for over 15% of the world’s online gambling traffic. Casual online gambling witnessed considerable growth in 2020 largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and the movement restrictions that came with it. 

Real-money casino games experienced a sharp 40% increase during last year’s lockdown. Fantasy sports also grew substantially in popularity. Other major triggers of online gambling’s growth were poker and cricket, which is hugely popular among the locals. But the pandemic and the lockdowns that ensued are hardly the only reasons for the growth of online gambling in India. 

India’s Young Population Contributes to Gambling’s Growth

The composition of the Indian population may be a contributing factor as well. India is the world’s second-most populous country after China and 75% of its population is under 45 years old. People aged 25 to 45 are the ideal target audience of online gambling operators. They tend to see gambling as a means of entertainment and engage in it with the hope of earning extra money. 

Young people are also more prone to using portable devices and browsing the internet. As we already mentioned, over 560 million Indians surf the web regularly but this number is expected to increase, reaching 630 million by 2023. The increase in internet usage may lead to more traffic toward online gambling sites, further boosting their popularity.Experts are confident India will see the launch of 5G in 2022. This technological leap will revolutionize online gaming, enabling Indian players to enjoy live-streamed casino games on the go without experiencing any lags or connection issues. The technology would also facilitate cloud gaming in the country, which could become another major growth trigger. 

Online Gambling’s Popularity Might Spur Better Regulations

The rise of online gambling, combined with the pandemic’s negative impact on the local economy, might spur the introduction of comprehensive regulations. For one, a better-regulated industry would help with problem gambling prevention. It would also ensure better protection for the underage population. The country currently lacks effective mechanisms that prevent minors from accessing gambling sites. 

Let’s not forget a regulated industry could give the country’s pandemic-devastated economy a much-needed boost in tax form. Adequate regulations would force foreign gambling operators to apply for and get local licenses. Both license fees and taxes can contribute to the state budget. With all these factors and considerations at hand, the future of India’s online gambling industry is looking bright. 

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