Online Roulette Starts to Outstrip Sports Betting in India

TINN | 4 months ago

Online Roulette Starts to Outstrip Sports Betting in India

England: While India may still be waiting for its government to ratify progressive online gambling measures that allow domestic operators to trade, nationals can even wager through international brands from across the globe.

This means that it's more than possible to play with real money in India, from online roulette and casino gameplay to sports betting.
While sports betting is typically dominant in India, however, this trend is beginning to reverse in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. We'll explore this below while asking whether disciplines like online roulette are likely to dominate going forward.

The State of the Market in India

In many ways, the typical trend in India bucks what goes on in the rest of the world, where the GGY generated by online casino gameplay is considerably higher than the corresponding number for sports betting.

Over in the UK, for example, casino products (including slots, roulette, blackjack and poker) accounted for 56% of the online GGY, whereas sports betting generated 37.1% of the overall yield.

Slot gaming was particularly dominant within the casino sector, accounting for nearly two-thirds (64.5%) of the online GGY and growing to the point where it may soon outstrip sports betting by itself.

In contrast, the overall online betting market in India was estimated at a whopping 62 billion Indian rupees at the end of 2019, while this number is expected to peak at 250 billion Indian rupees within the coming five years.

However, the underlying lack of regulation in the market means that nearly half of this sum is thought to be wagered illegally by punters, causing operators to miss out on an estimated USD1.5 billion in lost revenue.

Interestingly, some sources have put the total size of India's iGaming market at USD150 billion per annum, creating an even greater argument for stringent regulation and taxation.

Whatever the total size of the market, however, there's no doubt that sports betting is the key revenue driver. Cricket betting is particularly dominant here in India, where icons such as Virat Kohli can boast more than 37 million Facebook followers and have continued the sport's relentless popularity on the sub-continent.

This shouldn't distract from the popularity of online casino gameplay in India, particularly as more than 23 million natives are thought to have the means and the financial capacity the gamble frequently online.

While this means that there's ample room for both sports betting and online casino gameplay, there's no doubt that sports and cricket betting has typically led the way during the last decade.

Why Have Things Changed?

While India has only recorded a relatively low total of 229 Covid-19 cases to date, there have been more than 6,725 reported in the country to date.

This has forced an urgent and coordinated response from the government, while it has also had a profound impact on both the sports betting market and the overall economy.

The reason for this is simple; as several high-profile sporting events in India (and across the globe) have been cancelled as a result of coronavirus, including various cricket Test Matches and the lucrative IPL.

This means that punters have been unable to wager on their favourite sports and teams in the last few weeks, decimating revenues and closing down virtually all viable markets in this space.

If we consider this in line with the figures recorded above, however, it's fair to surmise that the majority of Indians will still have the capital to wager online to one degree or another.

Some will also be spending more time at home as a result of the government's stringent lockdown measures, creating a captive and already engaged audience and actively looking for new channels of entertainment that online casino operators can target.

This will be a seamless process for multichannel operators, of course, who can target their existing sports betting customer base with iGaming and casino promotions.

Even for those who operate solely as online casinos, it should be relatively simple to engage sports bettors and encourage them to wager instead on games such as roulette and blackjack.

This is undoubtedly causing a sea-change in terms of online gambling behaviour in India, as online roulette and similar disciplines continue to outstrip sports betting in terms of demand and revenue.

The question remains, however, is whether this trend is likely to be sustained?
The short answer is yes, particularly with top-level sport unlikely to return until the end of June at the earliest and a host of significant events having already been moved back to 2021 (including the Tokyo Olympics).

Gamblers are often creatures of habit, however. Without significant changes to the iGaming laws or the introduction of widespread legislation in India, most will gradually drift back towards sports betting once the Covid-19 threat has been overcome.

Online Roulette Starts to Outstrip Sports Betting in India

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