Online gaming is seeing huge growth in India, with sports betting taking the lead in this development. With a population that is 65% under the age of 35 years, and a smartphone ownership of about 500 million people, India has what it takes to be the biggest sports betting market. Sports betting companies have taken note and a few global brands have set up shop in India. Brands like Leovegas India have attracted massive following in a short time because of the huge interest in sports betting.
Sports Betting Laws
The biggest hurdle in the path of growth of the sports betting industry is the Public Gambling Act of 1867. This old law prohibits games of chance. Sports betting operators operate on the premise that betting on sports requires skills in game analysis. They also take consolation in the fact that horse racing is allowed.
Sports betting operators currently operating in India, operate under the guise of offering sports news and analysis. Their users are then led to betting sites proper via links on the sites.
There are hopes that things might change after Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur called for legalizing sports betting in November 2020. He opined that legalization will stop corrupt practices like match fixing and add revenues to state coffers from taxes on gambling revenues. Illegal cricket betting alone takes about $48 billion out of the $60 billion estimated to be in underground betting. The tax revenues from such sums would be enormous.
Indian states have the power to change their gambling laws. Some like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have made them stricter. Others like Goa, Daman and Sikkim have relaxed laws and allow online lotteries. Proponents of sports betting legalization say that states where betting is legal are seeing more benefits in taxes and structured gaming.
Fantasy Gaming Popularity
Fantasy gaming thrives because it is considered a game of skill. Fantasy gaming fans are estimated to be around 100 million in India. 74% of these fans report to playing at least once a week. Fantasy gaming operators operate freely and are fully licensed. There are about 70 fantasy gaming operators, and the number is still growing.
Mobile Acquisition and Online Betting
The acquisition of smartphones is the biggest factor in the growth of iGaming. There are about 500 million people with smartphones in India. This is a huge number in terms of potential market in online gaming.
In the absence of land casinos, Indians are doing their betting on their mobiles. The convenience of mobile betting beats going to a cyber café or visiting a street bookie. Higher smartphone acquisition has been accompanied by deeper internet penetration. Sports betting fans in remote areas can access betting markets easily.
Mobile betting apps have opened up the variety of sports entertainment available to Indian sporting fans. Cricket is of course the number one interest, but Indians are growing interested in other sports as well. The English Premier League and other European football leagues have become popular, drawing millions in audience each weekend.
Mobile betting apps from global brands like LeoVegas are offering thousands of betting markets in sports across the world. Even cricket fans now have a larger variety to pick from besides the Indian Premier League. They can easily bet on events on lesser-known cricket events on the cricket global calendar.
iGaming in India will continue seeing massive growth. With a youthful population that has a keen interest in global sports, the potential for iGaming is huge. Sports fans all over India wait eagerly for full legalization to realize the full benefits of this exciting industry.