Google to Introduce Gaming Apps in India

When you mention online gambling, the word ‘regulation’ is never too far away. Many countries are making regulation stricter, and some have still banned online gambling. What will happen in India now that Google plans to introduce some gaming apps?

Online gambling is mainly banned in India but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people playing. The growing gambling industry is predicted to reach $5 billion by 2025 and see the creation of 50,000 jobs.

This month saw Google announce that they would be introducing some real-money games in India. The one-year-pilot will include both card games and fantasy sports. Just how will the Indian authorities react to this announcement?

The country doesn’t have any laws that regulate online gambling. The internet is regulated by the government, while individual states deal with online gamling. They have banned most forms of gambling aside from some “games of skill” where strategy rather than chance is the key to success.

Kerala and Karnataka have seen online betting made legal after court cases. Those saw the central government bans overturned.

Many had considered online gambling to be a waste of time. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the usefulness of online games became apparent. They allowed people to be in touch with the outside world, even during a lockdown.

There was a 26 per cent increase in revenues made from fantasy sports and online card games in the space of just 12 months. No laws were being broken with the popular game ‘Dream 11’ being a fantasy cricket game and determined to be a game of skill. It’s attracted several foreign investors, so you can see why Google is now so interested in the Indian online betting market.

As a result, revenues from online card games and fantasy sports jumped 26 per cent in just one year. One of the most popular gaming platforms, Dream11, which includes fantasy cricket for example, is legal since it is classified as a game of skill and has attracted many foreign investors.

However, it’s not a total success story with addiction rearing its ugly head. One 11-year-old boy became addicted to online games. He spent around $75 without getting the permission of his parents and committed suicide when his actions were discovered. This is no one-off occurrence. The state of Tamil Nadu has seen 20 gambling-related suicides in the past year.

There are a lot of other players building up debts with some having to get online loans so they can continue to access premium games.

May of this year saw the Indian government launch an inter-ministerial task force. This has the aim of working out the best way to regulate the gambling sector in India. It’s not going to be easy with the central and state governments not that great at working together.

Another fear is that regulation could just see players heading in the direction of the underground gambling market.