For a long time, betting on sports has been considered largely illegal in India, except for horse racing, which according to a Supreme Court judgment in 1996, was considered not just as a game of chance, but a game of skill. Since then, horse racing has gained enormous popularity amongst bettors in India, with 9 racing tracks currently operating in India. Other forms of sports betting are still considered to be illegal, and a large underground betting network exists in order to escape the hands of the law. These underground operations have been time and again exposed by various scandals, but still, being such a lucrative business exists in abundance.
But now, in this digital era, online sports betting is gradually gaining popularity in India. Online sports betting operates within a grey area of the betting and gambling law, which allows the companies located outside India to accept online bets from Indian players. This has led to a huge number of betting sites offering their services in India. Still, many potential bettors are skeptical about the authenticity and legality of such sites. There are many websites that act as a guide to legal betting in Indiaand allow the customers to compare and choose the most suitable sites for them.
Cricket is one of the most favored sports when it comes to sports betting for Indians. Rough estimates suggest that approximately 40 billion dollars worth of bets are placed in India every year, with cricket cornering a lion’s share of the pie. As all of the betting operations are illegal, they operate in the black market. These illegal betting syndicates are largely controlled by the underworld and have been involved in numerous match-fixing and betting scandals in the past.
With the rising popularity of smartphones, and in this era of constant Internet connectivity, there has been an obvious rise in interest among individuals for online betting. Although there are numerous reputed and solid betting sites available in India, there are also plenty of websites that lack proper credentials and regulations, and still are seen accepting bets. As all these sites operate from outside India, there is no way that they can be controlled by Indian authorities and consequently place the finances and personal information of the users of the sites at a risk.
All these issues have slowly raised the call for the legalization of sports betting in India. In fact, Dr.Shashi Tharoor had moved a private members bill in the parliament asking for legalization and a regulatory mechanism for the sports betting industry in India. According to him, legalized betting will not only bring the largely illegal sports betting above board but will also rake in additional revenue for the states as well as the Centre in the form of tax revenues.
More recently, even the Law Commission has advised the government to take steps in the direction of legalizing sports betting, mandating digital payments, linking the Aadhaar and PAN numbers of individuals involved in betting, and other regulations. According to the commission, this will not only curb illegal activities but also generate revenue and foreign investment in the industry of casinos and hospitality.
With the increased popularity of sports like Football in India and the introduction of league sports like Pro kabaddi, IPL, ISL, and badminton leagues, the popularity and interest in sports betting are only bound to rise. The booming economy has placed more disposable income in the hands of India’s young population. And they are looking for a more exciting and rewarding way to spend money. Online sports betting provides an opportunity for them to do that right from the comfort of their homes.