India Online Gambling Review 2009Published December 24, 2009
So what's the biggest online gambling story of the year?
It's been a year of extremes on the gambling scene in India, with Government action resulting in both the cutting back and growth of casino activity. Confused? Read on!
The Legal Scene
Underage Gambling: In an effort to tackle underage gambling, the state of Goa increased the entrance fee to its licensed casinos tenfold. Taxes on gaming revenues have also been doubled. The move was criticized by many, who see casinos as serving their local populations by providing employment opportunities. It is anticipated that some casinos may close as a direct result of lost custom and higher running costs which directly stem from this Government action.
Big Bets in a Tiny State? The tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim legalized gambling in 2008 in an attempt to deter Indians from crossing the border to neighboring Nepal, where the industry operates legally. In March 2009 Sikkim opened its first casino and state officials confirmed many more are under consideration.
First Licensed Online Casinos: The Province of Sikkim is to be the first place in India to offer three licenses to online casinos. Many are speculating that although the law will restrict promotion to within the state of Sikkim, the licenses will ultimately allow holders to operate across the country. William Hill, Betfair and bwin (who recently merged with PartyGaming) are all said to be buddying up to local partners and positioning themselves to enter the Indian gambling market.
More Ways to Pay: PayByCash is now being offered to Indian gamblers as an attractive alternative to credit cards, which are currently the preferred payment method in India.
More Ways to Play: Casino King have recently launched both iPhone and android casinos offering punters bags of choice in where and when they place a bet.
Brand New Game: JackpotCity Casino is about to launch 'Hellboy' on January 14 -Microgaming's new 'lead game' is a video slot based on the 90's comic book creation. The theme, licensed by Dark Horse Comics, has been faithfully translated into a stunning 5 reel, 20 payline and multiple coin game. Check it out in the New Year!
Bollywood Flick in the Can: 2009 saw Oscar Winner, Ben Kingsley, make a Bollywood movie called 'Teen Patti' (Three Cards). The film is a razor sharp thriller which centers around the themes of greed, honor and deception. It is due for release in February 2010.
Indian Billionaire Sells Up: Anurag Dikshit, who made his fortune as the software brains behind PartyGaming, sold two thirds of his 28% cut in the online casino giant this year. Following a large fine for his involvement in his company's illegal gambling activities in the US, and with the prospect of legal proceedings still looming, Dikshit decided to distance himself from the industry.
The Year Ahead
2010 is all about regulation. The country is waiting to see what happens in Sikkim; who will get the licenses and how exactly will they operate? It looks like we're in for an exciting year ahead.