The global casino industry is estimated to be worth more than $120 billion at present, according to PriceWaterHouse Coopers. And, when it comes to the business of gambling, Asia is definitely the fastest growing continent. Casinos have proliferated to almost all corners; from Malaysia to Singapore and from Macau to Philippines. In the next few years, India is expected to become another key gaming destination; not just in Asia, but the whole world. Although some critics say the Indian market is not that glamorous, but the fast growing economy of the country, coupled with a population of over 1.2 billion, make the future of the Indian casino industry extremely bright.
Currently, the casino business is considered legal in the provinces of Sikkim and Goa, and several gambling establishments are popping up almost every year in these popular tourist destinations. The revenue from casinos in Sikkim has increased a staggering 50 percent since 2008. Moreover, the yearly revenue generated by the casino industry in Goa is worth 2 billion rupees (or $41 million). Casino giants MGM and Caesars Entertainment are also in discussion to enter the Indian casino industry, reported Reuters. MGM earlier stated that it is awaiting reforms in the legal structure of the gaming industry in the country, and hopes to enter the market soon.
Key Issues with Indian Casino Industry
The 1867 Indian Gambling Act prohibits all forms gambling on the Indian soil, with the exception of horse racing and lottery. However, a lot of people call the law confusing and outdated, and hope for an amendment in the near future to support the thriving Indian gambling industry. Another major reason for the low attendance in Indian casinos is the high entry fee, which can be as much as 4000-5000 rupees per person. I expect this entry fee requirement to be relaxed pretty soon, thus increasing the footfall in Indian casinos.
Development in the Indian Casino Industry
Recently, there has been a nationwide movement to make poker legal. The Indian Poker Federation (IPF), a “not-for-profit” trust, was formed to get poker recognized as a game that requires considerable amount of skill and strategy. The IPF, registered in Bangalore, hopes to quash the notion that poker comes in the ambit of “gambling”. Clearly, not everyone is happy with existing laws governing the casino and betting business. I wouldn’t be surprised if within the upcoming years these laws are ‘bent’ and casinos become more accessible to both Indian and foreign players.