Fantasy sports and iGaming – Should India regulate gambling?
With the huge popularity of Fantasy Sports and iGaming in India, it might come as some surprise to learn both are not 100% legal. That’s not to say they are illegal as such, rather Indian players operate in a misty grey area which can be highly confusing when you start delving into it. You don’t need us to tell you India is a huge country with each state having a say in the gambling laws within its boundaries. As such, Indian players interested in fantasy sports or iGaming might be at a loss where to begin. Here we lay out the legal situation of gambling and put forward arguments about whether India should regulate.
The legal status of gambling in India
The first thing to know is the Indian government differentiates between games of skill and games of chance. Games which require certain levels of skill to win are generally fine, while games of chance are forbidden – within the country. However, Indian gamblers who bet on games of chance such as roulette, Andar Bahar, or poker can still do so legally. This is possible because the Indian government does not restrict citizens gambling at offshore online casinos. As such, Indian players are lining up in droves to sign up and play in Indian rupees with these operators who are more than happy to cater to the growing demand.
The case for regulating gambling
One of the strongest cases for regulation is players are already gambling online anyway. Betting has a long history in India, from ancient times to the present day. It’s a pastime that is not going away any time soon. In fact, it has been estimated as much as 80% of Indians gamble at least once per year.
This being the case, it makes sense for the government to tackle the issue head-on rather than ignore and hope it will go away. Regulating gambling will make iGaming safer for Indian players while putting rupees into government coffers. With so much money moving offshore, it makes sense to somehow keep more of it in the country.
The same can be said for Fantasy Sports. Indian sports fans are infamous for their passion, elevating their heroes to higher than celebrity status. Fantasy Sports involve picking an all-star line-up of the best players in a particular sport. Some argue this involves an element of skill rather than chance since there is so much stat or performance analysis. Despite this, Fantasy Sports is also another grey area that would benefit from regulation.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that Indians have gambled in the past and will continue to do so in the future. The social shift brought about by the internet, coupled with widespread smartphone use means Indians are turning in ever greater numbers to sites which will satisfy their gambling requirements. There are huge opportunities here for a brave government to turn to their advantage. Whether they will rise to the challenge or not is yet to be seen.