The Indian market represents the final frontier for the online gaming community, with the potential market worth of billions to the local economy and international operators. Our own Stephanie Tower sat down with Ranjana Adhikari, Media Entertainment & Gaming Co Head of Nishith Desai Associates to discuss which direction India is going in.
Ranjana laid out what the gambling industry’s landscape looks like. “We are predominately an AI gaming market,” she said. “We have legacy casinos in three states, mass union territories, but that’s not the key market when you are looking at the future of gaming in India. The real market is in AI gaming and we do have some really popular products today spanning right from card games like rummy and poker and right into the close cousin of sports betting, you’ve got daily fantasy sports becoming immensely popular. We have seen a lot of interest coming in from international operators as well for games and sports betting products.”
While the Indian market is showing tremendous potential, Ranjana pointed out regulation is needed to develop the industry in India. “When you are looking at legislation in India, even in a normal world in a non-COVID world it takes a lot of time for a piece of legislation to find the voice of reason,” she said. “Then the opinion of the political parties and then becoming law, it’s a rather long process. The law commission of India have been given the task of looking at whether legalizing horse betting and gambling in general.”
Ranjana then gave the latest on what’s happening with gambling regulation. “They did note the most logical step forward would be to actually put a regulation and play, tax it and make revenues, but things did slow down in some sense,” she said. “We did have the central elections come in last year, and because of which a lot of niche kind of topics like sports betting took a back seat. Although COVID has accelerated the process of looking at this industry for a whole for regulation, it’s going to take a little bit of time. You are looking at another six or seven months going in quarters when legislation is concerned probably the seeds of it are sewn but you are probably looking at a minimum of three to five years for having something to happen.”
For international operators looking to enter the Indian market, Ranjana sees the current situation as the perfect time for new operators to move into India. “The time is now to look at whichever gaming product you’re looking for India, even if its sports betting,” she offered. “So look at the entire horizon in terms of venturing into the market. Slot games have become extremely popular at this time. We have seen several international operators wanting to enter the remote gambling market in India, which is essentially providing their platforms from overseas and allowing the switch open and allowing Indian players to come on board. It does have its restrictions on how you can market the product but it makes sense to start the entire process today because by the time you are looking at the marketing opening up, you are already having an active consumer base ready to convert to the regulated model.”
In the full interview, Ranjana discusses the push towards a regulated gambling market in India in more detail. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the CalvinAyre.com YouTube channel to see every interview we make as it goes up.