Asia has had a long and complex history when it comes to gaming in the casino world. From gambling being considered an evil undertaking that would poison a country’s population, to traditional, culturally important games finding new homes in the digital age – baccarat online, for example – it’s fair to say the continent has come a long way. But it also has a long way to go in some respects.
India, in particular, has seen a lot of change within the world of gambling entertainment, finding itself in a peculiar position at the turn of the decade.
A long history
Throughout its history, gambling has been widely outlawed in most Indian states except for horse race betting and the national lottery. The same is true as we head in to 2020.
The country used to have the popular Matka gambling ring, in which people would bet upon the opening and closing rates for cotton on the New York stock exchange, but this has since been outlawed as well.
As for casinos, they’re only legal in three states – Goa, Daman and Sikkim.
Goa has around a dozen land-based casinos, while Sikkim offers an online lottery for players across India. It’s expected other states will follow suit in the coming years in order to create a lottery market.
Despite the regulation, underground betting is hugely popular amongst the Indian people. During major Indian festivals Diwali and Holi, the rate of both legal and illegal means of gambling are estimated to rise by 30-40%.
Although the Indian gambling market is estimated to be worth US$60 billion per year, around half of this is said to be illegally bet.
Like a lot of the world, online betting has seen a massive surge in India thanks to the growing affordability of technology within the past decade.
Online betting has rocketed in popularity thanks to the offshore outlets that offer the casino gaming experience with no regulation from the Indian government. There are a variety of sites offering games where rupees are accepted as currency for use in betting.
Cricket, India’s biggest sport, generates massive revenue for the country and betting on it is seen as a big event. This is changing due to online betting fronted by mobile technology, as the Indian population do not need to wait for their next sporting event to place bets. They can play wherever and whenever they like.
The future of Indian betting
As seen with other countries in the Asian continent, as well as in Africa, governments can gain a significant amount of revenue from allowing wider gambling and taxing either punters or the betting companies themselves.
Worldwide betting organisations have already moved to set up outlets within Sikkim, and a more relaxed attitude to gaming would surely see India become a valuable nation to casino companies given its sheer size and massive population.
Calls for more lenient regulation on gambling have continued throughout the decade, with many frustrated over the worrying stakes and incidents that underground betting has led to in the past.
There is clearly a large audience for betting in India and only time will tell if Sikkim proves to be the precursor to wider government acceptance of gambling in a country where this kind of gaming has become extremely popular with its people.