Posted on: June 10, 2022, 05:20h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2022, 11:43h.

India has apparently realized that it’s missing out on a potential revenue waterfall by continuing to block online gambling. As a result, it has formed a government panel to consider the different angles from which to approach legalization.

Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal in India. The country is a step closer to introducing online gambling but still faces challenges. (Image: Pinterest)

India is making progress toward legalizing gambling. A seven-member team, including state ministers, has been assigned to find a nodal ministry to guide the industry. The team’s responsibilities include developing regulatory mechanisms that protect players and create a transparent, well-founded industry.

This panel will examine the legal and legislative frameworks currently used worldwide by regulators. The information and analysis will help create policies to help overcome anti-gambling sentiment in certain areas of the country.

Curbing Black Market Gambling

In addition, the government hopes that legalized gaming will reduce the presence of underground gambling. There have been more raids on illegal gambling in various states in the past few weeks, and officials have conducted several operations to stop illegal betting on cricket matches.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) welcomed the news, according to the media outlet Kashmir Life. It stated that this is a big step in showing the government acknowledges the online gambling industry’s role in India. It added, “The task force is a big step in creating regulatory certainty for the nascent and fast-growing online gaming industry.”

Except for the Supreme Court precedent on skill-based gaming, there has been no federal statute that governs India’s gambling industry. Each state takes its own position on the matter. In March, the All India Game Federation (AIGF) campaigned for all states to take a proactive approach to developing a strong policy framework for online gambling.

That was a month after the Karnataka state government’s futile initiative last September to ban gambling of all kinds ended. Lawmakers implemented the ban, but the Karnataka High Court overturned the measure.

Kerala also attacked online gambling last year. It tried to block online rummy, defining it as a game of chance. However, the Kerala High Court reversed the ban, ruling that the card game is skill-based. The same scenario also played out in the state of Madras in August.

Embracing the Future

Authorities began looking at the possibility of creating regulations for online gambling in April as more states realized the revenue potential. As a result, the government is now looking to create a new regulator to guide the sector.

The Online Gambling Regulation Act (OGRA) establishes a central regulator for online gambling, the Online Gambling Commission. It would have the power to monitor the activities of online gambling operators and punish those who don’t comply with the law.

It would also be able to issue, suspend, or revoke online gambling licenses. In addition, this committee would also be able to make licensing rules, including who is allowed to gamble.

Some still want to block online gambling, though. Anbumani Ramadoss, president of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party (Working People’s Party), criticized India’s ruling party for moving forward with the legislation. However, it seems the ball is already in motion.

Online Gambling On the Rise

Ernst & Young and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry released a report on Indian online gaming three months ago. They found a 17% increase in paying customers in the segment, with the figure climbing from 80 million in 2020 to 95 million in 2021.

The number of online gaming users increased 8% during the period, jumping from 360 million to 390 million. According to the report, this figure will rise to 450 million by next year.

In addition, the Indian online gaming market grew by 28% during the period. In 2020, it was worth Rs79 billion (US$1.01 billion) but reached Rs101bn (US$1.29 billion) the following year.

There is no concrete timeline for the OGRA’s efforts to reach their conclusion. However, regulations could be in place before the end of the year.