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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?

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Paving the Way for Regulated iGaming market: Will India See the Rise?
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By Dr Aruna Sharma, Practitioner Development Economist & Retd Secretary GoI

 

Could you provide insights into the current market potential for iGaming in India, and what key challenges do you anticipate the industry facing in the near future?

The popularity of online gaming as a form of entertainment in India has surged with the widespread availability of inexpensive smartphones and affordable internet access. Global investors, developers, and other industry stakeholders are keenly watching the growth story of the Indian online gaming industry which has witnessed a 28% CAGR between FY20-23 and holds a market valuation of ₹16,428 crores.

However, instead of direct contribution in the economic growth story of India the online gaming industry is contributing in terms of increasing revenue (direct and indirect tax) collection (year-on-year). Additionally, the sector has attracted budding tech developers and entrepreneurs by providing them employment opportunities and fueling innovation to keep up with the rising demand for AI and other such immersive gaming experiences.

After some crucial and elucidative changes in the regulatory and taxation policies by the government in 2023, one can hope that 2024 for iGaming will thin the clouds that are shadowing accelerated growth of iGaming in India. 2024 holds promise for iGaming in India. While full regulation may take time, positive court ruling and increased focus on non-RMG segments could cause a casual gaming boom, potentially unlocking a multi-billion dollar market. However, regulatory uncertainty and potentially high tax rates remain a hurdle for attracting investments and interest of other stakeholders in this growing market and industry.

 

What are the main challenges facing Indian iGaming and how different are these challenges within the different regions of India?

  • The government is focusing on reducing threats like false information, mental health problems, money laundering, and financial losses for users by bringing rules and regulations such as the IT Rules, establishing SROs and SRBs.
  • Adequate regulation, that is conducive to doing business, is needed, first of all, to protect the Indian players. Because in the current situation, Indians are being abused by countless nefarious parties. Checking and curbing the illegal gaming platforms and enhancing mechanisms to ensure increased user awareness and behaviour while indulging in online gaming.
  • A pressing concern that requires governments urgent attention is to put in place parameters that differentiate between games of skill and chance for taxation.
  • As a fallout of high and retrospective taxation the industry is facing job losses, advertising and spending cuts and reduced investments in research and innovations.

Additionally, policy and regulatory compliance for the platforms have become increasingly complex with both center and state governments legislating on the same subjects and multiple ministries regulating the industry.

 

Delve into the necessity for a regulatory framework that is both balanced and adaptable.

Unregulated framework where user base is large leads to spread of iGaming in gray market with all its vices. By regulating the iGaming industry, the government can unlock other positive outcomes, such as increased tax revenues, economic growth via attracting more foreign investment, job creation, and better consumer protection. A thorough regulatory framework will enable transparent parameters to distinguish and license the game of skill accordingly and rest will fall under game of chance.

Regulations always bring in transparency and ensure there is no misleading advertising or non-payment of legal taxes. Additionally, regulations such as the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 have ascertained a robust grievance redressal mechanism by setting up of the SRBs and SROs.

Further a balanced and stable regulatory framework could provide assurance and confidence to the international iGaming companies in paying taxes while doing business in a regulated and transparent market, create jobs, and invest in the country and its people. Thus, comprehensive regulations, that are conducive to doing business and protect the Indian players, who are being abused by countless nefarious parties are necessary in the current iGaming landscape.

Consequently, foreign iGaming companies operating legally have consistently demanded that the Indian government establish an adequate and stable regulation and taxation regime. Instead, the government has consistently chosen to unwisely prohibit it, thus pushing this whole industry underground. Furthermore, iGaming companies face unfair persecution and baseless lawsuits from India.

 

The new 28% GST on online gaming has produced divided opinions about the industry’s future in India. How has the industry reacted to it?

Industry initially panicked at the 28% tax, fearing slow growth and reduced investments. The partial relief, clarification on the regulatory compliances have brought cautious optimism. Smaller firms remain anxious, fearing the high rate still discourages players and favors larger businesses. Long-term impact depends on pending Supreme Court judgment on game classification and potential tweaks to the tax structure.

The applicability of a flat 28% tax on the total value of bets placed in online gaming, irrespective of whether they are games of skill or chance has upset the applecart that was moving smoothly with the evolution of agreed principles among SROs and the oversight by SRB with clear distinction of the regulatory body between Games of Skill (permissible games) with that of Games of Chance.

The matter is now being reviewed by a Group of Ministers (GoMs) comprising of officials from ministries such as the Home, Finance, MeitY, etc. to reconsider the GST and how to counter episodes of money laundering and other such scams and frauds.

 

Finally, what can we expect from Indian iGaming as a whole this year, if you were to sum it up in three key points?

It is expected that 2024 will set pace by bringing in clarity in rule making, consistency of rules, inculcating a more stable policy environment that enables India to not miss the bus of becoming a hub for developers. The iGaming industry is expected to tighten its grip for filling the digital divide, enabling learning of cognitive skills and enhance conscious citizen messaging to further tap into the positive side of iGaming.

Additionally, iGaming industry should leverage technologies like blockchain to further the purpose of transparency and tracking of digital payment as a technical solution and for permanent storage of records to curb money laundering. Alongside formulation of regulatory policies, a stricter implementation of policies such as IT Rules (establishing SRBs), mandatory KYC, and compliance with Advertisement Standard Council in India (ASCI) norms for iGaming industry need to be inculcated in ensuring safe and secure gaming platforms.

The future of the gaming industry holds promise of growth, however, there is still a hazard that due to absent market regulation and destructive policies, international iGaming companies shun India, sending an unwelcoming signal to many other potential foreign investors.

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Asia-Pacific Sports Betting Market Report 2024-2030, Featuring Dafabet, SBOBET, 1xBet, TAB, CrownBet, UBET, Sports Toto Malaysia, Mansion88, 12BET and W88

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The “Asia-Pacific Sports Betting Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Platform, Type, Sports Type (Football, Basketball, Baseball, Horse Racing, Cricket, Hockey, and Others), Region, and Segment Forecasts, 2024-2030” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

The Asia Pacific sports betting market size is anticipated to reach USD 60.34 billion by 2030. The market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2024 to 2030. The increasing penetration of the internet and smartphones drives the demand for sports betting in the Asia Pacific. The accessibility and convenience offered by these technologies have led to a surge in online sports betting platforms, attracting a wide range of enthusiasts from diverse demographics. In addition, the rise of digital payment systems has facilitated seamless transactions, encouraging more individuals to participate in sports wagering activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the Asia Pacific sports betting market due to the widespread cancellation or postponement of sporting events across the globe due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing measures implemented to restrain the spread of the virus. For instance, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, initially scheduled for 24 July to 9 August 2020, was postponed due to the pandemic. The postponement of such big sporting events restrained the growth of the Asia Pacific sports betting market during the pandemic.

Moreover, the growing popularity of alternative betting options such as virtual sports, esports, and fantasy sports has diversified the offerings within the sports betting market, appealing to a broader audience base. As these non-traditional forms of betting gain traction among younger demographics, sports betting operators are investing in expanding their product portfolios to cater to evolving consumer preferences and market trends. The fantasy sports platforms allow users to create virtual teams composed of real-life athletes and compete against each other based on the players’ actual performance in sporting events. These alternative betting options enhance the overall betting experience and offer opportunities for bettors to engage with sports in innovative and interactive ways, thus fueling the growth of the sports betting industry in the Asia Pacific region.

Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market Report Highlights

  • Based on the type of betting, the fixed odd wagering segment accounted for the highest revenue share of 24.7% in 2023 owing to the increasing popularity of fixed odds wagering due to the transparent way of betting based on the odds set by bookmakers, which allows bettors to choose from various options
  • Based on the platform, the online segment dominated the market in 2023 and is also expected to grow at a significant CAGR over the forecast period. This shift towards online sports betting in the Asia Pacific can be attributed to secure payment options and the ability to manage accounts online
  • In terms of sports type, the horse racing segment accounted for the largest revenue share in 2023. The increasing globalization of horse racing events and the integration of international races into local betting markets have contributed to the expansion of sports betting on horse racing in the Asia Pacific
  • China held the largest share of 22.8% in the Asia Pacific region in 2023 and is expected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. Moreover, the liberalization of gambling regulations in some areas of China, such as Macau and Hainan Island, has created new opportunities for the growth of sports betting

Key Attributes:

Report Attribute Details
No. of Pages 80
Forecast Period 2023 – 2030
Estimated Market Value (USD) in 2023 $28.09 Billion
Forecasted Market Value (USD) by 2030 $60.34 Billion
Compound Annual Growth Rate 11.5%
Regions Covered Asia Pacific

Key Topics Covered:

Chapter 1. Methodology and Scope

Chapter 2. Executive Summary
2.1. Market Outlook
2.2. Segment Outlook
2.3. Competitive Insights

Chapter 3. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market Variables, Trends & Scope
3.1. Market Lineage Outlook
3.1.1. Parent market outlook
3.1.2. Related/ancillary market outlook
3.2. Market Dynamics
3.2.1. Market driver analysis
3.2.1.1. Increasing adoption of mobile phones and rising internet penetration
3.2.1.2. Growing number of sporting events and leagues
3.2.2. Market restraint analysis
3.2.2.1. High competition from international as well as domestic companies
3.2.3. Market opportunity analysis
3.2.3.1. Increase in the disposable of middle-income groups
3.3. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market Analysis Tools

Chapter 4. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market: Platform Estimates & Trend Analysis
4.1. Platform Market Share, 2023 & 2030
4.2. Segment Dashboard
4.3. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market by Platform Outlook
4.4. Market Size & Forecasts and Trend Analyses, 2018 to 2030 for the following
4.4.1. Offline
4.4.2. Online

Chapter 5. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market: Type Estimates & Trend Analysis
5.1. Type Market Share, 2023 & 2030
5.2. Segment Dashboard
5.3. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market by Type Outlook
5.4. Market Size & Forecasts and Trend Analyses, 2018 to 2030 for the following
5.4.1. Fixed odds wagering
5.4.2. Exchange Betting
5.4.3. Live/In Play Betting
5.4.4. eSports Betting
5.4.5. Others

Chapter 6. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market: Sports Type Estimates & Trend Analysis
6.1. Sports Type Market Share, 2023 & 2030
6.2. Segment Dashboard
6.3. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market by Sports Type Outlook
6.4. Market Size & Forecasts and Trend Analyses, 2018 to 2030 for the following
6.4.1. Football
6.4.2. Basketball
6.4.3. Baseball
6.4.4. Horse Racing
6.4.5. Cricket
6.4.6. Hockey
6.4.7. Others

Chapter 7. Asia Pacific Sports Betting Market: Regional Estimates & Trend Analysis
7.1. Regional Market Share Analysis, 2023 & 2030
7.2. Regional Market Dashboard
7.3. Global Regional Market Snapshot
7.4. Market Size, & Forecasts Trend Analysis, 2018 to 2030:
7.4.1. China
7.4.2. India
7.4.3. Japan
7.4.4. South Korea
7.4.5. Australia
7.4.6. Philippines

Chapter 8. Competitive Landscape
8.1. Recent Developments & Impact Analysis, By Key Market Participants
8.2. Company/Competition Categorization
8.3. Vendor Landscape
8.4. Company Profiles

  • Dafabet
  • SBOBET
  • 1xBet
  • TAB
  • CrownBet
  • UBET
  • Sports Toto Malaysia
  • Mansion88
  • 12BET
  • W88

For more information about this report visit researchandmarkets.com

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Profiles of Animesh Agarwal, Naman Mathur, Payal Dhare and Tirth Mehta

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  1. Animesh Agarwal aka 8Bit Thug, Founder & CEO of 8Bit Creatives and Co-Founder of S8UL

Mr Animesh Agarwal is the Founder, and CEO of 8Bit Creatives, India’s leading Esports consulting and talent management agency.  He is also the founder of S8UL, a hub of gaming content and Esports. S8UL is the parent org of IQOO SOUL, the leading Esports organization in India.

S8UL is the only Indian Esports organization to win at the global Esports Awards and has done so multiple times by securing the prestigious ‘Esports Content Creator of the Year’ recently. Having also won the inaugural ‘Global Impact on Mobile Gaming’ award at the MOBIES earlier this year, the organization has elevated the stature of Indian Esports worldwide. Moreover, team SOUL has also roped in iQOO as its exclusive title sponsor, marking the first time that an Esports organization in the country secured a high-profile title sponsorship with a mobile manufacturer that extends beyond individual tournaments.

Animesh dons several hats as an entrepreneur, an ex-pro gamer, a monster energy Esports athlete, a gaming & luxury lifestyle content creator, and a pioneer in the Indian Gaming Industry. He has a deep understanding of the industry and is dedicated to shaping the Esports and gaming industry in India. He has partnered with other industry front runners like Nodwin Gaming & LOCO to make substantial strides in advancing gaming & Esports in India.

His Company, 8Bit Creatives is equally making remarkable milestones in the business of content creation and brand collaborations around gaming and esports. With some of India’s top gaming talents in their line-up and backed with experience and exposure of collaborating and curating campaigns with 100+ top-notch brands like Netflix, Coca-cola, Reliance Digital, Mx Players, OnePlus, Realme Narzo, Flipkart, Airtel, and many others; 8Bit Creatives boasts of managing popular and renowned gaming content creators and influencers- Mortal, Scout, Mavi, Snax, Thug, Payal, Kaashvi, 8bit Goldy, 8bit Sid to name a few.

 

  1. Naman Mathur aka Mortal, Co-Founder of S8UL

Naman Mathur, popularly known as Mortal, is a prominent figure in the Indian Esports community and the Co-Founder and CMO of S8UL Esports. Known for his exceptional gaming skills and influential presence, Naman has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of Indian Esports. His achievements both as an Esports athlete and a gaming creator have earned him global recognition, cementing him as the face of Indian Esports.

Naman holds the distinction of being the only Indian Esports athlete nominated four times in the prestigious global Esports Awards. The 26-year-old clinched the runner-up in the ‘Esports Personality of the Year’ category in consecutive years in 2022 and 2023, following his previous nomination for the ‘Streamer of the Year’ category in 2020 and 2021 where he secured the second position on both occasions.

As an Esports athlete, the Mumbai-born gamer has won notable tournaments including the BMPS Season 1 (2022), PUBG: Mobile Club Open, and PUBG Mobile India Series (2019) while also representing India on the international stage. Acknowledged for his exceptional gaming content, Naman was honored with the ‘Best Gaming Influencer’ at the Impact Digital Influencer Awards last year.

With an impressive following of 7 million subscribers on YouTube and over 5.3 million followers on Instagram, Naman’s influence transcends his gaming prowess, as he has played a pivotal role in elevating the status of Indian Esports on a global scale.

 

  1. Payal Dhare aka PayalGaming, India’s leading female gamer who is part of 8Bit Creatives

Payal Dhare, hailing from the small city of Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, defied societal stereotypes from an early age and embarked on a journey as a gamer. It all began when her cousin brothers introduced her to the world of video games.

While Payal’s father provided unwavering support, her mother initially shared the concerns for her future. However, Payal’s determination and passion gradually changed her mother’s perspective. As a result, her mother now stands as a proud supporter of Payal’s achievements.

Payal commenced her career as a hardcore content creator. Although her first video on YouTube did not feature gameplay, it served as a significant starting point for her. Unlike aspiring lifestyle influencers, Payal’s primary focus was to connect with her audience through gaming. She aimed to have fun while playing games and involve more people in the process. Payal believed that competitiveness was not always necessary when engaging in video games.

By breaking stereotypes and pursuing her passion, Payal Dhare has become an inspiration for aspiring gamers, content creators, and individuals seeking to challenge societal norms. With over 3.1 million followers on Instagram and 3.69 million subscribers on YouTube, her journey exemplifies the importance of following one’s dreams, even in the face of adversity.

 

  1. Tirth Mehta, Bronze medal winner in Hearthstone at Asian Games 2018

Tirth Mehta, a 28-year-old lad from the sleepy town of Bhuj in Gujarat’s Kutch district won the bronze medal in Hearthstone — a popular online digital collectible card game — at the Esports demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games. Hearthstone, developed and published by American video game company, Blizzard Entertainment, has garnered huge interest among online gamers from across Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, besides India. The game is a combination of chess and poker, requiring players to have core skills in maths and probability.

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QTech Games bolsters its bingo offering with S4Gaming’s non-jackpot games

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Emerging-markets leader strengthens its premium platform with a new game family from the revered video-bingo supplier

QTech Games, the number-one games distributor across Asia and all emerging markets, has signed an upgrade to its existing S4Gaming partnership, enabling its platform customers to more premium content from the video-bingo supplier’s non-jackpot bingo offering.

Barcelona-based S4Gaming draws from a deep well of breakout games, including popular slots titles such as Multidragon, Golden Lion, and Binvaders. These games already form part of the progressive portfolio made available to QTech Games and its clients, but they have now been joined by a new portfolio of non-jackpot games around bingo, featuring hits like La Mina de la Suerte, Gran National Bingo, Pesero and more.

This non-jackpot game family is proving more engaging to players who enjoy better RTP from their favourite underlying core games, and attractive to operators searching for no – or more limited – jackpot liabilities.

S4Gaming boasts a comprehensive catalogue, ably backed by an experienced team that offers decades of industry expertise in a developing digital landscape that demands varied content, above all in newly regulating jurisdictions like LatAm. Its cornerstone philosophy hinges strongly around innovation, providing creative ideas to improve every aspect of the UX.

This ongoing collaboration widens S4Gaming’s geographic footprint, targeting emerging markets from Asia to Latin America in particular. As the fastest-growing distributor in Asia over the past few years, QTech’s platform is proven in fragmented territories and delivers the most expansive gaming suite around, localised for each region, with native mobile apps, powerful reporting and marketing tools, and 24/7 local-language support.

Unlike many other verticals, bingo initially struggled to adapt products to mobile and its smaller screen interface, losing its lines for invention. However, now S4Gaming is capitalising on the enormous potential within bingo to deliver an engaging, socially-led product that can win back the market share conceded to other gaming sectors.

QTech Games CCO, Daniel Long, said: “It’s another resounding endorsement of our platform to have integrated more premium content from S4Gaming. Their expanding video-bingo library is an engaging vertical in and of itself, delivering another dimension to our gaming-vertical spread, courtesy of some high-quality graphics, responsible gameplay and unique features. Together, we will continue to raise the bar and shape a localised experience for global players.

“There’s no reason for the social aspect of bingo to be impacted in the transition to mobile. In fact, its surging popularity among millennials, should propel this surge of interest in this timeless game across the generations. The key is to maintain and evolve a varied product portfolio that caters to all player preference and points on the volatility and return-to-player spectrum. Some players simply prefer a more reliable RTP and longer dwell-time from their go-to games, while this is also appealing to operators who might be looking to avoid towering jackpot liabilities.”

Carles Fernandez, CCO at S4Gaming, added: “QTech Games is a natural habitat for superior games and a rarefied air for the player experience. We are broadening our influence across developing regions and their market-leading platform provides an agile pathway to some previously overlooked territories.

“Needless to say, agreeing this new deal tracks our core strategy to fully leverage our reach, and we look forward to seeing how new audiences embrace our games.”

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