On a global scale, sports betting was already able to reach a market value of over 203 billion US dollars last year. The industry is thriving despite a pandemic and is even expected to continue to grow in the coming years. This is also the case of the sports betting industry in India where the online segment is dominating the market.
India is still quite strict when it comes to regulating gambling. Generally, it is an illegal activity and only a few states would allow the local operations of gambling companies. Nagaland, Goa, and Sikkim are now the states that regulate certain forms of online and gambling activities. Meanwhile, some states have completely banned online gambling activities, particularly sports betting like in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
Even if India still needs progressive gambling laws, the nation just can’t hide the fact that they love sports betting. India is a country that loves sports, especially cricket. IPL cricket betting in India will most definitely blow up this month as its second phase has just started in the UAE. Even with restrictions, Indians will surely find a way to place their bets on the upcoming cricket matches.
Why is Sports Betting So Popular in India Anyway?
The simple answer to this question is that sports are huge in the country and in particular, cricket is something that brings everyone together. This is why the biggest and most popular cricket tournament is in India which is the Indian Premier League that is also participated by foreign players.
For this year’s IPL, it has an average of 105 million unique viewers. Even during a pandemic, people just want to have something to look forward to, and to some, it is watching sports events like the IPL. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) pushing for a complete IPL season alone despite the struggles that the country has with the rising COVID 19 cases this year is already an indicator of how there is a need for it.
Aside from cricket, Indians also enjoy following sports like football, tennis, boxing, wrestling, and hockey. With all the love that Indians have for sports in general, it’s no longer surprising that sports betting is also becoming popular. What’s not to enjoy about knowing that aside from your team winning, you can also enjoy a few extra bucks as well? Sports and gambling just go well together and the people of India know this so well.
Aside from India’s love for sports, other factors play a role in the growth of sports betting in the country. India has one of the largest populations out there with over 1.3 billion and as of last year, around 750 million of these people are internet users.
According to a report on gambling statistics in the country, around 40 percent of internet users have placed bets online at some point. This means that around 300 million people would gamble online in India. This makes the country have a ripe market for online sports betting and any other online gambling activities.
India’s Sports Betting Future
Before this year, it was easy to see India will be moving towards lenient gambling laws. Many are predicting that the government will eventually regulate sports betting in the country, especially the online sector. However, it seems like things are getting a bit tough on this segment.
Recently, the Karnataka government has tabled a bill to ban online gaming activities in the state. Based on the definition of online gaming on the said bill, it includes all forms of wagering or betting in connection to any game of chance… including in form of tokens valued in terms of money paid before or after the issue of it, or electronic means and virtual currency, electronic transfer of funds in connection with any game of chance. Sports betting is included here too.
This happening during a time when sports betting and other forms of online gambling are becoming popular in the country somehow takes the country a step back. Many are saying that India needs a progressive law instead. However, it’s hard to say for now if this is the direction where the country is heading anytime soon.
The country’s gambling sector can surely be a beneficial economy if it is regulated. Currently, offshore casinos and bookies are the ones ripping the benefits of the nation’s love for gambling. If India regulates gambling, surely, it could create jobs and the government could earn more tax revenues that can aid India’s budget.