Indian online gambling market is experiencing a rise in popularity in recent months. In a country where gambling is a common activity among the adult population, there are currently more players turning to online casinos, instead of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. According to a recent survey conducted across the country, 40% of all internet users in India gamble, and specialists project India will soon surpass the United Kingdom in the number of online bettors. Gambling market researchers state that almost 80% of all adult Indians place a bet at least once a year.
Amid the global pandemic caused by Covid-19, India’s online gambling market experienced an increase in the number of players, and online casinos are attracting punters from different states. With cities worldwide going under severe lockdowns and many land-based venues being shut down to enforce social distancing, online casinos became an attractive alternative to online bettors. According to a report recently released by Business Wire India, the online gambling industry went through a 21% rise during the early stages of the pandemic and is expected to record big profits in the following months.
While players around the globe favour online slot machines, due to their vibrant and colourful gameplay, special features like progressive jackpots and fascinating visual and audio effects, most Indian online bettors prefer classic local games like Andar Bahar and Teen Patti. These games are usually offered at online casinos that feature live dealers, streamed from luxurious studios, granting players an authentic casino experience. Indian Rummy is also very popular among Indian players, although not very common at foreign online casinos.
Despite not being regulated in some Indian states, trustworthy online gaming sites are often licensed by strict international agencies and commissions, like Malta Gaming Authority, and are currently available for Indian punters. Additionally, players from the state of Sikkim benefit from a regulated online gambling industry, with a licensing act introduced in 2008.
To better understand the gambling industry in India, it is necessary to take a look at the complex legislation behind it and the confusing regulatory framework that affected the way the market was formed.
There are three federal laws that affect gambling India, and the most prominent of these laws is the Public Gaming Act. According to it, it is illegal to operate or visit a gambling house. However, as this was introduced in 1867, there are several loopholes that enable some forms of gambling.
Unlike many other countries, traditional brick-and-mortar casinos are only allowed in certain states, and with specific games, which indicates that classic gambling is not available in all its forms, and in all cities across India. As a highly decentralized country, gambling regulation is under the jurisdiction of each state. Therefore, online casinos are allowed throughout most of India, but they are not fully regulated in most states.
As of March 2021, only three states, Sikkim, Daman and Goa, allowed gambling in specialized venues, and other three states have banned online gambling: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Currently, Sikkim is pursuing a regulated online gambling framework, and is pushing for a countrywide regulation of online casinos. Despite these efforts, most online casinos are provided by offshore companies that are licensed by diligent international gaming authorities like Malta Gaming Authority and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.
Recently, we’ve seen a huge boost in online sports betting and online casinos in India. Researchers predict that, propelled by pandemic lockdowns and social distancing measures which made people spend more time at home, the market will reach US$1 billion in the following years. However, it is estimated that India is losing around US$140 million annually just for not having a fully regulated online casino industry.
It is also expected that offshore companies will keep operating in the Indian market and attracting customers from the region, which may eventually lead to the country implementing new gambling laws that are already being demanded by some states. This could result in a surge of online casinos all across the country, increasing the offer for Indian players, in what could be one of the biggest gambling markets in the world. Despite not having a long gambling tradition like the United Kingdom and the United States, Indians do have an affinity with sports betting and casino-style games and the opinion of younger generations on gambling has drastically changed in the last decades, so the country is expected to promptly capitalise on the gambling market.