Legalising Online Casinos: How this could affect India’s economy

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Legalising Online Casinos: How this could affect India’s economy

Gambling has existed in India in various forms for centuries, from the Hindu epic Mahabharata in which Yudhishthira bet his brothers and Draupadi in a game of dice to modern-day online casinos that welcome Indian players. There are laws in India dating from the 1867 Public Gambling Act, which attempted to control gambling in the country at the time of the British Raj (1848-1947), though these laws have not been amended comprehensively to include contemporary forms of gambling, including online casinos across the country.

Infrastructure improvements

Gambling has grown substantially since Digital India drive undertaken by the Modi government, which saw improvements in infrastructure that led to improved internet speeds which led to more people having access to content. India’s telecom revolution has made the country the most competitive and one of the fastest-growing telecom markets, according to the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) of India. With an estimated 1.15 billion mobile phone users in India, there is a huge potential market for online casinos, including those that can be found at Also aiding growth in online gaming were events after the 2016 Indian banknote demonetisation which created a boom in digital online payment systems.

An industry worth billions

The potential market has led to the launch of several gaming sites in recent years meeting a demand for quality game content and offering employment for game developers and healthy profits for game developing companies and the gaming industry in general. A study by KPMG India dated September 2019, estimated the Indian online gaming industry could be worth INR250.3 billion (USD3.39 billion) by 2024.

Several global gaming firms have already opened offices in India or have signed distribution agreements with leading Indian mobile game developers to distribute their products in India which has led to heated debates on whether online casinos should be legalised across India. Daily, tens of millions of Indian rupee are changing hands illegally because Indian law does not transparently regulate the online gambling market.

Affects of legislation


Legalising online casinos could affect India’s economy in very different ways according to two separate schools of thought. One side claims that online casinos would increase money laundering, crime, and corruption. There are also concerns about problem gambling and the morality of supporting what could become a dangerous habit with consequences that affect families and households.


The other side supports legalising gambling to increase tax revenue by taxing online gambling activities that already exist, with the millions collected invested for the good of the country. Legalisation would also open up employment opportunities, as has been seen in countries where gambling is already regulated like the UK, Macau and Nepal. In the UK, 100,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in the gambling industry and in India, this number could be around 2.5 to 4 million employees.

The online casino and sports betting platforms are separate from existing land-based casinos in Goa and Sikkim. With legislation, the Indian government would be able to control both online and offline activities and Indian casinos could offer their own games online instead of relying on foreign sites, allowing more transactions in the local INR currency, with money staying within the country instead of being sent overseas.

With legalised online casinos, each person’s identity would be verified, reducing the risk of money laundering, fraud or problem gambling, but perhaps most important of all is how legalizing online casinos could help India overcome the current economic crisis.

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