iGaming On the Rise in India
Regulation has been one of the biggest talking points in the iGaming world in recent years. While regulation...
Regulation has been one of the biggest talking points in the iGaming world in recent years. While regulation is good news in principle, for players especially, they have proved expensive for some major iGaming companies, especially when combined with recent tax increases.
Markets such as Spain, Sweden, and the UK are heavily regulated, with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) dishing out a record £19.7 million in fines across nine operators in 2018.
It will not be a surprise to hear that such hefty fines can leave gambling companies with little in terms of profit margin, with an increasing number finding themselves in the negative, despite the ever increasing size of the already mammoth industry.
It will also not come as a shock to know that, as a result of this increased regulation in formerly popular markets, many Malta based online casino operators, who have been focused predominantly in Europe over recent years, have started to look further afield.
In fact, if you look at the live casino brands listed as the best ones for India, 90% of them will be major players in Scandinavia or UK.
The target is jurisdictions with little to no regulation, limited competition (at least compared to the UK market, for example) and no local taxes, and top of that list for many companies right now is the Indian market.
How Much Potential is There in the Indian Market?
If you speak to any industry insider, they will likely tell you that the potential of the Indian market for iGaming companies has never been greater.
There are numerous factors contributed to the market's promise, starting with the population. India has a population of 1.3 billion, but it isn't only that, it's the age brackets that make the big difference.
65% of India's population is under 35, and 50% is under 25, and the youthful nature of the population is only growing, which is seen as a major factor contributing to the rise of gambling in the area.
India has always had a love for sports, with cricket being the national sport that has the biggest fan base, but horse racing and others also generating a huge amount of interest. A love for gambling has also been a part of Indian culture for a long time.
What is changing now is ease of access, smartphones and data are becoming more affordable, resulting in something of a technological revolution, especially amongst the young, and with more people having smartphones and access to the internet on the go, there is a logical lean towards online gambling.
Add to that the increasing ease of online payments thanks to a larger number of payment methods becoming available to Indian customers, and the rise in household income.
In 2017-18 India's per capita income had grown by 8.6%, which was actually down on the previous year's growth which was over 9%, but still shows a rapid growth in income, and more specifically, disposable income, allowing for more Indian people to experiment with online betting.
When it comes to modern and revolutionary payment methods, no option sums up that description better than cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The big upside of bitcoin and the like is the ability for anyone to make deposits and withdrawals, and this played a huge part in the growth of the iGaming industry in India, and continues to be one of the most popular deposit and withdrawal options for players in the country.
Most Popular Ways to Gamble in India
While there are numerous forms of gambling that are popular in India, there are a couple that stand out.
The popularity of cricket in India is no secret to anyone, and betting on cricket also has a long and storied history in the country, so it only stands to reason that, as betting moves online, cricket betting is one of the first and largest sections of the market to grow.
For a long time, it has been difficult for Indian players to use online betting companies to bet on cricket, many sites did not offer cricket, and an even smaller number offered currencies or payment methods that were easily accessible to Indian customers.
However, that is changing rapidly, with the likes of Betway and bet365 offering cricket betting to Indian players, and companies under the Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) umbrella, such and Rizk and Leo Vegas, who are making moves in the Indian market at the moment, also offer gaming options to Indian players.
Live Casino Play
Live casino options are growing in popularity around the world thanks to technological evolutions allowing for smoother and more attractive gameplay, and India is no different.
One of the biggest providers of live casino games is Evolution Gaming, who have a huge portfolio of top quality games that has seen them create an impact worldwide.
It isn't only the quality of Evolution's games that have seen them rise to the top of the pack, it's also the company's ability to see opportunities, and keep themselves at the forefront of evolution (no pun intended) in the iGaming world.
The same is true in India, with Evolution soon to launch a Hindi speaking studio designed to offer live casino games specifically to the Indian market.
Andar Bahar is an immensely popular game in India that does not tend to be played much in the rest of the world.
While Evolution is yet to have leapt on the opportunity to offer the game, Vivo Gaming and Ezugi studios both offer live casino versions for Indian players.
Believe The Hype?
There is a lot of excitement around the Indian market at the moment, but is the hype to be believed? After all, most heavily regulated markets were brimming with similar potential once upon a time, before governments stepped in with taxes, regulations, and laws, is the same going to be the case in India?
At the moment, it's hard to know, but it is a definite possibility. The laws around online gambling in India are hazy at this point to say the least, it's not exactly legal, but in most cases, it's not exactly illegal either.
A 2018 report by the Indian Law Commission stated that sports betting should be regulated, but that seemed to be more of a suggestion than a call to arms of any kind, and there is some confusion as to whether such regulation would be managed by the State or the Central Government.
A public interest litigation, filed by activist Avinash Mehrotra called for an end to gambling in all forms in India, claiming that websites prey on the young, and encourage the "horrible habit of gambling". This was declined by the Delhi High Court.
While it seems unlikely that banning gambling in India is going to be the outcome here, what is substantially more likely, is that the government will see the profit that can be made from regulated the market in some way.
This is how we see the online gambling market progress in North America too. USA is moving on with state by state legislation, while given the info by Lion Casinos, Canada is a bit slower.
But what seems to be sure at the moment, is that any such changes are not going to happen overnight, and there is a definite possibility that the potential of the Indian market for iGaming providers will only increase over the next few years.
As a result, we can expect the eyes of many Malta based iGaming companies to turn towards the Indian market in the near future, if they haven't already, which should only be good news for Indian gambling fans looking for more options.