Online gambling trends are significantly rising in India each year. More and more online casino operators are penetrating the local market, and even with online gaming restrictions, the locals are still placing their bets online.
According to IIPS India, the local online gambling market is estimated to be over 1 billion USD by the end of 2021. Real money investments are also rising at a rate of 20% each year.
Some research also suggests that around 40% of the people in the country would gamble in online casinos at least once a year. With the current growth rate of online gambling activities in India, it will likely surpass the UK’s number of gamblers in no time.
Is online gambling legal in India?
Online gambling is in the grey area in India. There are no federal laws that prohibit or regulate it, and that means it is neither legal nor illegal. Since that is the case, the locals can freely place their bets online without getting into any trouble.
Gambling in the country is still regulated with the Public Gaming Act of 1867, and since this was passed at a time without the internet, it does not have anything on online gambling activities. Now, there is the Information Technology Act of 2 000 that regulates online activities in the country, but that too has nothing on online betting.
However, it is illegal to operate gambling activities locally in most of India. Only three states have regulated gambling, and these are Goa, Sikkim, and Daman. Gambling operators in these states also have to be licensed to operate.
Indians can just visit these states to play casino games and bet on sports, but nothing beats how convenient online gambling is. There is no need to travel and online casinos are now offering popular payment solutions used by Indians like Paytm, Apple Pay, NetBanking, and Bank Transfer.
Indians are more likely to place bets online than travel to the states where gambling is regulated. After all, they also will not get in trouble for placing bets online as long as the operators are based offshore. And indeed, the most popular betting sites in India are based in other countries like the UK, Curacao, etc.
What is the future of online casinos in India?
It is not impossible for India to eventually regulate online gambling activities. It is also no longer hard to imagine that some states will be against it and impose a ban on online gambling instead. There were already states that moved towards banning games of chance like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
In October this year, Tamil Nadu passed a bill to prohibit online gambling and regulate online gaming within the state. The reason why the local government sees this as a fit solution is the rising threats that come with the said activity.
There have been more reports of gambling and online gaming problems in the state, and that is why they have been pushing for a ban. However, this is not the first time they have done it. In 2020, they also imposed a blanket ban on online gaming only to be overthrown by the High Court for being unconstitutional.
The state is still allowed to come up with a proper solution or law to limit the risks of online gaming, so it is hard to assume that the latest law passed will last long. The ban in Tamil Nadu is also now being challenged by the E-Gaming Federation (EGF), so for now, locals can only wait and see what will happen.
With Tamil Nadu imposing a ban on online gambling and regulating other online games, more states may follow. This can be both good and bad news to some, but there are still groups out there like the EGF which are pushing for legislation instead.
Some countries saw success in regulating certain online gambling activities. The United Kingdom has always been a prime example of this. The UK is one of the most open countries when it comes to gambling.
However, it is also no secret that the UK has been taking a lot of steps to ensure responsible gambling. The UK Gambling Commission has been implementing stricter rules over the past year, and it is not all bad since the locals are still free to place their bets online safely.
Surely, India can learn a lot from how the UK is regulating gambling activities. Aside from the UK, more states in the US are also now regulating online sports betting. For now, Indian gamblers can only await more updates on what lies ahead in the local betting industry.
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