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Emergence of real money gambling in India and how it became a massive industry

Emergence of real money gambling in India and how it became a massive industry

Indoor games have been popular among Indians for ages. From playing on old boards to moving to virtual reality, the way we play has changed, but the love for it has remained. Today, India is one of the fastest growing online gaming markets in the world. Gambling has skyrocketed especially amid the Covid-19 lockdown where most Indians, especially young people, have leaned towards online games due to the scarcity of entertainment choices to stay connected from isolated way. According to an EY report by the All-India Gaming Federation, the online gaming industry in India is considered one of the fastest growing industries, expected to surpass $2 billion by 2023.

What contributes to the popularity of real money games and makes it a growing industry?

The booming mobile gaming industry
With the introduction of affordable smartphones in the market and the various data packs available at disposable prices, online gambling is no longer a luxurious activity for most. Currently, mobile games in India account for 90% of the market share with over 3 billion downloads and smartphone penetration has seen a surge. India’s gaming market, which currently generates $1.5 billion in revenue, is expected to triple to more than $5 billion by 2025 thanks to the “mobile-first” phenomenon.

Skill based games
India described a long history of skill-based games. Even today, when online gaming is booming, it’s no surprise that skill-based games are leading the way. A “game of skill” is a game in which a player’s success is determined on the basis of how effectively he plays the game, his strategies and his superior knowledge of it. Some popular skill-based games are rummy, racing, and fantasy sports which have reduced the luck and luck aspects and turned gambling into a mainstream entertainment and alternative to social media.

State-of-the-art technology and payment options
Just as gamers at all levels are pushing the boundaries of the games they play, developers are also using new emerging techniques and technologies to advance the gaming experience. Online games are now equipped with video chat functionality which allows Indian gamers to interact and participate in games via live video and real-time chat. The advent of 5G data network in India will further boost this momentum and enhance gaming experiences with technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. With 5G wireless technology in place, cloud gaming could pave the way for the future of online gaming. Another important factor driving the growth is the availability of a variety of secure online payment options that allowed players to play in both free and paid formats.

As the gaming craze kicks into high gear, avid gamers are now looking for a rewarding entertainment experience. Fantasy sports revenue grew ninefold in the pre-pandemic years between 2017-18 and 2019-20, reaching 16,500 crore, while esports revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 36% over the three coming years. Not limited to cash prizes alone, emerging game companies in India are also creating more opportunities in unconventional sectors such as technology-driven careers in IT and game development.

Social lifeline
In this era of long-term social distancing and mental health strains, people of all age groups are turning to online games for relief. Discord and multiplayer games allow gaming enthusiasts to build friendships online and stay connected for years.

heavy investments
Seeing the rapid growth of the Indian gaming market and given the size of the population, major global players have started acquiring and partnering with domestic companies to expand their geographical presence. Real-money games (RMGs) such as cards (poker and rummy) and fantasy sports attracted $700 million worth of deals in the first nine months of 2021. While investors continue to strongly support sector, local companies are likely to scale up their operations and respond to global markets in the years to come. However, the thriving industry currently suffers from an unstructured regulatory framework. Considering the huge potential of India’s online gaming industry, which is the fourth largest market in the world, the industry needs a strong regulatory and legal environment to help the business grow rapidly. Once the government has put in place a clear, precise and effective policy to promote responsible gambling, the industry will realize its true potential.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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