India, with a population of almost 1.4 billion, is one of the most interesting gambling markets for companies all over the world as they see a huge potential for placing their products. Also, thanks to their British heritage, Indians are very open to gambling as a pastime activity. Whether it is horse racing betting or gambling online at the reviewed casino sites, Indians are ready to feel the thrill of a good bet.
According to Economic Times, in 2013 30% of all plane passengers to Goa were gamblers, ready to spend their money in popular floating and land casinos. So, if Indians are ready to sit on a plane just to play in a casino, are there enough offers that live up to the ever-increasing demand?
Gambling regulation in India
Even though there are people who don’t mind placing their bets in unlicensed casino houses, most people still want to play legally. After all, India is one of the very few countries that fine both the casino owner and the casino customer in case they get caught in illegal gambling. Owners of such venues face a fine of ₹200 or imprisonment of up to 3 months, while customers will have to pay a ₹100 fine or end up in prison for a month.
The gambling industry in India is regulated on a local level, in every state. There are two exceptions to this rule - traditional lottery and horse racing that are legal in all states. Only three states provide licenses to brick-and-mortar casino venues, while others made such businesses illegal. Goa, Sikkim, and Daman are states where both Indians and tourists can experience traditional casino games. The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act issued in 1976, limits the casino venues to five-star hotels and floating vessels, thus preventing all interested entrepreneurs from simply running a casino.
When it comes to online casinos, things get somewhat complicated. There is not a single Indian-licensed online casino. In 2010, there were some predictions about how Sikkim would provide three online gambling licenses (with William Hill and 888 being interested parties), but unfortunately, the negotiations failed. With being one of the most populated countries in the world, India is a huge and very profitable market for all industries, not only online casinos and betting. Offshore companies are allowed to offer their services to Indian customers but only under one condition - they have to enable depositing, playing and withdrawing in their local currency (the Indian Rupee).
So gambling is very much present in the lives of many Indians, but online casinos are much more accessible than traditional venues.
According to research conducted by PlayWin, a Sikkim-owned lottery, India will be losing more than $1.5 billion in taxes annually just because they are ignoring the online casino industry. The entire economy is also losing money as they are missing out on providing additional services to offshore gambling companies like marketing activities, special events, customer support, etc., while other countries, like Malta, managed to make gambling industry a major part of their local economy.
Is online gambling industry the future?
The question is, how long can India ignore the thriving online casino industry? Of course, there is a high chance that authorities consider the entire business sector to be devastating for society, but that won’t prevent people from gambling. Remember, during festivities such as Holi, gambling activities increase up to 40%, and they mostly take place in illegal and improvised casinos. Gambling and betting are as old as mankind, and no regulations can prevent people from having fun.
It can be expected that sooner or later, India will have to follow the footsteps of Italy and the United Kingdom and focus on licensing online casinos, not only because it can make a significant part of the state’s budget, but also to protect customers and provide an efficient regulatory framework. As many online casinos offer sports betting as well, we can hope to see this market segment being more efficiently legalized and not focused exclusively on horse racing, as there are many other sports interesting to Indian punters.
Online casinos are here to stay. As long as a player has a good and reliable internet connection they can access their favorite games without ever leaving the house. Modern transaction methods such as eWallets and special vouchers make depositing and withdrawing safe. There are no additional costs in terms of accommodation and plane or train tickets to get to Goa. All the player has to do is use a computer or a mobile phone to log in, and they can start to spin some slots already. With installed mobile casino apps, players can even play while commuting to work or having lunch - they literally have a whole casino in the palm of their hand.