Gambling in India is under strict regulation measures. Most betting is illegal except for select classes such as lottery and horse racing. The loudest critics argue that gambling leads to crimes, money laundering and all the ills attached to it including corruption. On the other hand, some argue for legalization and propose for regulated gambling as it can be a source of revenue for the state and even provide for employment. Proponents also argue that regulating will pluck the gambling industry from the mafia. In the states where regulated gambling is allowed like Daman, Sikkim and Goa brought in state revenue to the tune of Rs 135cr in the 2012-2013 financial year. There is however still illegal betting that goes on in the country despite the ban and the possible fines one faces if caught gambling. The illegal gambling market is approximated as worth £32 billion a year.
While betting is illegal in most of India, there is no law against online gambling. Casinos in India cannot promote or offer online gambling but there is no law against non-Indian companies from having sites that are open to Indian players. Non-Indian companies that operate in countries that allow gambling can offer their services to the Indian market. This is a loophole that the offshore companies have decided to exploit. The only requirement with the non-Indian companies is that they have to pay the players in Rupees. This has led to development of Indian rupees casinos online that can link players in India with the offshore companies.
If gambling is illegal then how can we explain the boom of the Indian online casino industry? Below are some of the reasons:
It is the only way to gamble
With gambling being illegal in India, the only somewhat legal (since it is technically not illegal) way people in India can enjoy slots and table games is through online casino gaming.
It is cheap and accessible to most.
Players of all budgets can play and this has made sure that it is not a preserve of the rich and everyone can take part. When starting out, players can and are advised to play free no deposit games so that they can learn the rules without staking money. Winnings in the no deposit games are real and they are then used to make deposits for other games. Casinos have irresistible offers and continually give bonuses that are available to everyone. Be it sign up bonuses or subsequent play bonuses. Review sites are always comparing offers and directing users to the best.
Rapid technological development:
This coupled with increased use of smartphones phones and high-speed internet connection. The introduction and advancement of smartphone technology has contributed a lot to the growth in the gambling industry. Developers are developing games that are compatible with most Operating system to maximize their reach. This has increased information and more people are able to access online casino games. The huge Indian population also helps to increase the boom. There is a government initiative to transform the country into a digital hub that involves increasing internet access. This will further promote online casino gaming.
Increasingly convenient systems of payment:
Traditionally, players have had an extremely difficult time trying to deposit money with foreign bookies. Attempting to deposit money through Visa and Mastercard almost always ended in failure. But now with the introduction of international e-wallets, prepaid cards and UPI (Unified Payments Interface) mean that payments can be made to the casinos and back to the players without going through banks.
Increased legalization in the West:
The United States and The United Kingdom are home to most of the offshore companies that run gaming sites accessible to Indians. According to Indian Law, it is not illegal for these companies in jurisdictions that allow online gambling to provide these services. Consequently, easing of restrictions and legalization in the US and UK mean that there are more online casino sites available to Indians.
A wide array of games to choose from and competition:
Diverse top-ranking casinos offer exciting line up of casino games and other hard to resist features. The growth of the mainstream gambling, supporting businesses have also thrived. There are numerous sites that give game reviews so players can find games that excite them and are easy to play.
Increase in targeted content:
Online casinos are becoming more and more adapted to the Indian market. Players can pay in Rupees hence easy payments and reducing the hassle of exchange rates. Some casinos have the option to browse in Hindi and many of them have popular Indian games on top of already famous world games. They also engage Indian celebrities and influencers to promote their sites with content that is strictly suited to the Indian market.
Online casinos are secure:
Increased legalisation has also meant more regulation. The regulating bodies have set regulations that game companies have to adhere to: they have stringent security measures, background checks for employees, proof of liquidity for owners and secure payment modes. This has built the confidence of players as they know that they will not fall prey to scams.
The acts of big players:
Most significant and trusted players in different industries have become investors and supporters of online casinos essentially endorsing the industry. Bigwigs like Alibaba, Youzu, Nazara, and Tencent have made investments in the industry thereby giving it trustworthiness and ensuring its growth.
The effects of Covid-19 and the lock-down:
In 2020, perhaps the biggest contribution to the growth of online casinos has been the lockdown. With restricted movement, most people have resorted to indoor modes of entertainment including online gambling. Closing down of land-based casinos during the lockdown period also contributed heavily to the hike in online casino gaming. Even with the easing of restrictions, those who had started to play online casino games are most likely to continue to play.
In the future, the casino industry is only expected to rise. Technology will continue to advance; payment systems will get better and more convenient and with its population size there will always be market for online casino gaming. While it is unlikely that gambling will be legalized, there is also no indication that more stringent regulation and legislation will be made to criminalize online gaming. This means then that the industry will continue to grow. With the government initiative to transform the country to digital hub, the online entertainment sector will continue to grow and online casino gaming with it.