Date: 27.05.2024

by Kajetan Sawicz

Surge in Sports Betting Apps in India Despite Regulatory Bans

Despite India’s strict legislative ban on gambling and betting, the popularity of sports betting apps continues to soar. In 2023 alone, there were 19.4 million new downloads of these apps in India, with a significant spike observed in the latest quarter.

Rising Trends in Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports also remain a dominant force in India’s gaming landscape. In 2023, Indian consumers spent $121,000 on sports betting and a dramatic rise in fantasy sports expenditures from $25,000 in 2022 to $120,000 in 2023.

Notably, nine out of the top ten most downloaded fantasy sports applications globally are from Indian companies, illustrating the region’s profound impact on the global stage.

Impact of Regulatory Measures

The Indian gaming sector, including online games and real-money gaming, continues to thrive despite the imposition of a 20 percent GST on Real-Money Gaming (RMG).

The resilience of this sector is evident as it is projected to reach a valuation of Rs 38,800 crore by 2026. However, the industry remains in a regulatory gray area, with no clear laws governing online betting.

Legal Ambiguities and Government Actions

While traditional sports betting is prohibited, fantasy gaming apps skirt the laws under the classification of ‘games of skill.’

This has not exempted the industry from the scrutiny of various laws such as the Consumer Protection Act and the IT Act, with regulation primarily left to the states due to the lack of comprehensive federal legislation. In December 2023, the central government took decisive action by banning 174 betting and gaming apps, signaling ongoing efforts to clamp down on unregulated activities.

Challenges and Opportunities

The estimated Rs 8,20,000 crore online betting industry in India operates amidst this ambiguity.

The absence of specific legislation continues to pose challenges for regulators and industry stakeholders alike, leaving significant room for interpretation and enforcement.