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The online gambling or real-money gaming sector in India has undergone a recent boom. What is it about the betting industry that has seen steady growth, even as the Indian economy is being ravaged by the side effects of the pandemic?
Gambling has long been a part of Indian culture, whether over small wagers card games in family gatherings, or larger bets placed on India’s favorite sport, cricket. Thus, it is hardly surprising that India is one of the fastest-growing markets for online gaming and sports betting.
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But what are some of the factors that have contributed to the rise of online betting in India?
Easier availability of cheaper and more efficient technology.
One of the biggest reasons behind the rise of the online betting industry to the top is the easy availability of cheaper and more efficient technology. With more and more mid to low-tier smartphones flooding the Indian market, every citizen has access to the internet and betting apps.
The more people become dependent on the smartphone for all their needs, the more they get exposed to apps that are meant for pure entertainment. And the lure to make some extra money while playing a simple casino game on your phone seems like an irresistible offer indeed.
Throwaway data pack prices.
We have Ambani to thank for the dirt-cheap data packs that we can now buy to make content consumption easier than ever. Gone are the days where we would make a 1GB data pack last half a month.
With most telcos now offering cheap data packs with 1GB or 2GB to spend per day, people are enabled to use the internet to their hearts’ content. And before long, the many real-money gaming apps flooding the market are bound to attract users.
Digital payments such as UPI.
How would digital payments help people bet online? The answer is simple – the more easily you can spend online, the more you actually do!
Digital payment apps that run on the UPI infrastructure – Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe, BHIM, Samsung Pay, Amazon Pay – have all made it possible for people to easily deposit money on betting sites or apps and enjoy wagering at any time.
Since more and more real-money gaming apps now accept these RBI-approved payment methods, Indians are more inclined to quickly deposit some spare cash and begin trying their luck at the games!
The lockdown breeds boredom.
This may seem like a frivolous reason behind the rise of online betting in India, but it is one that cannot be ignored. 2020 saw an incredible increase in the number of players that were betting online. And that trend has continued into 2021.
And there is a simple explanation for the same – the lockdown having cut down entertainment options for the general public, people already have very few choices. And real-money gaming or online betting happens to be one of those fun activities that you can engage in, without ever having to interact with another person, making it the perfect sport for a pandemic.
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links.)
India is set to see its smartphone base increase to reach 820 million, currently hovering around 550 million, in the next two years. Despite being the second-largest smartphone market in the world (behind China), the country cannot list even a single homegrown mobile-based game that is creating flutters globally.
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar-promoted Fearless and United Guards (FAU-G), the game that made its debut for Android users on January 26, quickly became the top free mobile game on Google Play Store with more than five million downloads on the Google Play store.
However, over the past few days, the rating has declined dramatically, and now, it has just 3 stars for not being as good as the super-hit PUBG that was banned among several Chinese apps.
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“What I was really hoping for was that it would replace PUBG’s position, but when I played it, I realized that it is (the) worst game I’ve ever played in my life. This is really disappointing,” wrote one of the users who gave FAU-G a star rating on Google Play Store.
India is already among the top five countries in the world for mobile gaming and is heading towards the top three. By 2023, it’s expected that the value of the mobile industry market in India will reach around $105 billion. According to industry experts, the domestic gaming industry would need to develop rich and immersive gaming content that translates into strong user engagement and more importantly, user retention.
“While Indian game developers have always had the technical expertise, they have thus far, been hampered by the lack of capital and a clear road to market, among others. This, in turn, has meant an inability to create strong intellectual property (IP), Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.
“Given the strong consumer interest, and VC interest in gaming, we are looking at a strong growth curve for the gaming industry. Indian game developers have an unprecedented opportunity to build immersive world-class games,” Ram told IANS.
There are more than 300 million gamers in India at this time. Many of these gamers take part in gaming activities most days of the week. This, in itself, creates an impressive potential for the Indian gaming industry. Indian studios require significant investment to build good products. Technical hardware, software, and artwork require extensive capital expenditures. Moreover, like other IP-driven businesses, game development comes with inherent risks.
These issues are compounded with the recent trend of investors focusing their capital on online gambling platforms like Indian Rummy, Fantasy Sports, and Teen Patti. “Gaming is not supposed to be about gambling, but rather about relatable and innovative interactive content. There is a lot of room for localized content. FAU: G, Tappi, and Ludo King are perfect examples,” Vishal Gondal, Founder, nCore Games, told IANS.
Gondal said that at nCORE Games, they are also trying to experiment with game formats that resonate with Indians. “For example, FAU: G was launched as a powerful story-driven, single-player experience. In the coming months, we plan to add formats that haven’t been attempted in the Indian context like Team DeathMatch and Battle Royale,” Gondal said.
The next decade will be a highly impactful one for the world of gaming, and the time is ripe to make India the global leader. “I think we have to find our niche where we can excel in this. Capability-wise, we are equipped. My suggestion is that we should pursue mythology-based theme games. We will definitely make a great world-class game in this,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.
The Indian gaming industry is also witnessing a spike in hiring activity and in January, both gaming sector job postings and searches were up 13 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from the same period last year. As of January, the number of job postings was still twice the number of job searches on Indeed, indicating a significant gap yet opportunity for India’s vast talent pool, according to leading job website Indeed. (IANS/SP)