India’s Gambling Market – Economical Breakdown

Gambling Worldwide – Market Current Size & Projections

Valued at nearly $50 billion globally in 2018, based on the significant and continuous growth of the gambling market, the expected increase in CAGR by 2025 is 11.5%, or in other words, approximately $94 billion. This numbers come by no surprise, taking into consideration the immense growth of internet use over the past decade, with services being consumed virtually with a 28% annual increase across all industries. Together with the fast progress in technology making customer experience better by the minute, the online casino industry continues to strive.

Online gambling market expect to reach 94 billion by 2025
With an average annual increase of 11.5% the online gambling market globally to reach $94 billion by 2025.


Is gambling in India legal?

In simple words, online gambling in India and its legality is defined by whether the company offering the services is located and operating from India or not.

Companies, registered abroad and operating from outside of India are technically allowed to offer their services to Indian players. Or, to be more precise – they are not prohibited from doing so.

However, this is not the case should the online casino operator wish to be a company based in India – it is illegal to operate sites offering any gambling activity to players within the country, this is the case for slots, sports betting or live casino.

You may wonder how this works. The responsibility to control this, lies within the Internet Service Providers (ISP). At the point where a customer accesses a website – if this website is India based, the ISP will block the customer from accessing the site. ISP do not have the right to block visitors from accessing foreign sites, however, making it problem-free for Indian players looking to play casino online to do so on the many online casinos available out there, many of who offer Indian Rupee as a currency, too. This is the factor which defines India as a gray market in the online gambling industry – although it is not legal per se, there are no laws stopping either the operators abroad or the players in India from accessing their sites.

There are another 2 online gambling products, immensely popular in India, for which there is a law introduced – lotteries and horse racing and betting online on the two is legal. When it comes to land-based casino, there are a few states in the country which have allowed establishments to operate legally and these are Sikkim, Goa and Daman.

If we take into consideration the incredible growth of online gambling amongst the Indian people, it is easy to imagine how much the state would profit by introducing laws to allow online gambling on a nationwide scale. In the current situation, online gambling is only getting more and more popular, and players are contributing to foreign economies.

How big is the market in India, actually?

The market in India is, in fact, relatively young compared to other markets like the US, Canada, western Europe or China. This makes it hard to evaluate the actual market price and this, in combination with India being a “gray market”, makes all potential estimations nothing but a guess. But to put things in perspective, back in 2009 some unofficial reports suggested that online gambling in India at the time made up for over $30 billion yearly, and at least half of that would fall under sites operating outside of India.

Since we have no way of estimating the current impact of online gambling activities on the Indian economy due to the newness of it, one way to get an idea of where things are headed would be to compare another, similar market – China. Things are not much different in China – the only form of gambling which is legally allowed is state-owned lottery. The comparison between India and China is accurate due to the cultural similarities, population size and current regulatory situation.

We dug deeper to find accurate data on the progress of online gambling in China over the last few years and the numbers speak for themselves and the growth is incredible – going from a $19.7 billion in 2017, to $23.8 billion in 2019. At this rate, we expect to see numbers of over $35 billion per year by 2022.

India comparison with China and it's current growth
China – the market comparison for India, its current growth and future projections


What contributes most to its growth?

The most logical and well-known reason for the incredible progress of any online business worldwide has been the growth in number of internet users. This has been especially rapid in India over the last 10 years with a registered growth of 18% annually, estimated at 566 million internet users in December, 2018. With the numbers over the last decade, the predicted number of internet users by the end of 2019 is 627 million, and 730 million by the end of 2020.

What else made a big difference in India, was the great increase of internet users in rural areas this past year and the numbers are bound to rapidly increase, due to the better internet coverage available in those areas.

Increasing rise in internet accessibility in rural areas India
The increasing rise in internet accessibility in rural areas in India


Hand-in-hand with the improving internet accessibility is the growth in the use of mobile devices. Mobile users stand for 80% of all users in the online gambling industry and in most countries, the average use of mobile devices versus desktop computers or laptops is significantly greater. In india, the numbers on this matter are of great importance as India is the second most populous country in the world, and is projected to account for almost 13% of the global smartphone market by 2020.

Estimates also point towards 800 million mobile phone users by the end of 2019.

Indian mobile phone users increase from 2014 to 2019
An increase of over 200 million mobile phone users since 2014, totalling to 800 million in 2019


With all the above numbers and factors into consideration, the future for the gambling market in India is promised to put the country in line with the biggest markets in the world. How much of the financial benefits with the state be able to enjoy? This will come down to the regulatory future of the gambling industry in India.

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