With a population of more than 1.3 billion, analysts are predicting that more than 600 million people will have access to the internet in the subcontinent by 2021 with the potential of the online betting market in one of the world’s biggest countries looking to be simply astronomical.
Yet the online betting market in India is still largely underdeveloped. This is in part due to the murky legal status of online gambling in India. Gambling is illegal in India and often takes place illicitly under the radar of government authorities. The current legislation under The Public Gambling Act of 1867 unsurprisingly does not take into account the role of online gambling.
It leaves off-shore international operators free to offer their services to Indian players – a trend that is increasingly on the rise, as serious attempts by European based and licensed bookmakers looking to tap into the lucrative Indian are already well under way.
A question of trust
The likes of British based Betway and Bet365, as well as Swedish-founded operators LeoVegas, Unibet and ComeOn! have all expanded their portfolios to meet the needs of, and to attract Indian players. However, the big issue in reaching Indian players is the question of trust.
When speaking to leading sports betting affiliate and CEO of Leadstar Media Eskil Kvarnström he emphasised the importance of enforcing the trust factor in using major online bookmakers.
“With on-shore gambling illegal in India and with recent betting scandals in the IPL, many Indians are reluctant to gamble with online betting sites, even if it might be something they are interested in”.
“With our Indian products, particularly our Indian betting sites page on BetBlazers.com, we aim to reinforce the legitimacy of major international bookmakers, not simply just to present an overview on what is on offer”.
Specialise and localise
Many of the aforementioned betting sites are starting to meet the challenges of the Indian market head on, and are beginning to understand the basic needs of the average Indian player.
Offering payment methods that are compatible with the Indian market is an important ground principle in allowing players from India to access global operators, particularly as some Indian banks seek to block transactions related to gambling. A variety of payment options such as e-wallets to circumvent this obstacle are particularly important.
The role of affiliates
The unique position of the Indian market in this respect is something that some affiliates such as Leadstar Media have sought to take a hands on approach to tackling.
“Because India is still such a young market, we find it extremely important to provide an overview of what is on offer, but also the basics on how to access betting sites and how to actively participate.”
“If you take our Betway review for example – as one of the leading online bookmakers in the world today, their expansion into India has been quiet but extremely successful. We see it as our job to rank and review the pros and cons of betting sites, but with such a nascent market as India we also offer tutorials on how to use betting sites like Betway, as well as how to access all the features available to Indian players.
Challenges going forward
The question of internet access, especially on mobile platforms, is still an issue for online bookmakers. However exposure to wireless internet is set to increase in the coming years, a trend that has been seen in Africa in particular.
The question of accessibility, but also of education is a core principle that online bookmakers and only the most service-conscious affiliates are seeking to tackle right now. However, the fact of the matter is, European-based bookmakers such as Betway, Bet365 and Swedish operators are already taking the lion’s share of gains in the Indian market by offering tailor-made products to entice potential Indian players.