States that lead in online casino registrations and overall interest seem to possess a combination of huge population, growing economy and dropping poverty shares. Sports betting trends, however, add more data to the equation.
Maharashtra Emerges as the Clear Leader in Online Gambling
Gambling and various forms of wagering are deeply rooted in Indian traditions. With the notable exceptions of Goa, Sikkim and Daman, offline land or water-based casinos are forbidden by state legislators. Offshore and online casinos are naturally filling the niche – their popularity is rising with the overall growth of the Indian betting and gambling market.
Admittedly, the trend is fuelled by affordable smartphones, cheap 4G internet data packages and an abundance of reliable e-payment options. The Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns only accelerated the process.
Sevenjackpots state data reveals where most online players come from, along with a series of other interesting industry insights. Proprietary Google Analytics data over a 6-month period in mid 2020 show that almost 2/3 of all online casino registrations and player visits in India originate from six major cities and their states. Gambling sites that are prominent are for example Purewin.com
The urban agglomerations of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad lead the rankings of gamer volumes. The cities of Pune, Ahmedabad, and Surat follow closely.
Looking at individual States, the leader is Maharashtra with 17.4 per cent. This is more than 1/6 of all player visits for the period. The huge population of the state – 123.1 million inhabitants according to 2019 data – gives only partial explanation to the GA findings.
Gambling Traction and State Penetration Are Not Based on Population Alone
Uttar Pradesh has almost double the population of Maharashtra with its 237.8 million people, yet it accounts for just 8.2 per cent of online gamblers. This is half the player share of the leading State and sends it to fifth place. A quick look at the Northern Indian state’s GDP per capita reveals it is nearly three times lower than Maharashtra’s. Uttar Pradesh has also a significantly higher share of its population living under the poverty line – 29.43 per cent.
The runner-up in this online gamblers ranking is the state of Telangana. With an even higher income and lower poverty figures than the leader, it accounts for roughly 10 per cent of the total online casino traffic.
Another proof that population size is not sufficient to push gaming numbers up is Bihar’s 11th position. Similar in population to Maharashtra (with 125 million as of 2019), it reports GDP per capita figures lower than Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, one third of its inhabitants live below the poverty line. Online casino popularity in Bihar and total access rates are not a surprise in such conditions.
Sports Betting is Big in Telangana and Karnataka
Higher income levels also mean more disposable income besides, if not always, lower poverty shares across the population. This allows consumers to consider spending more on entertainment and leisure activities. Even so, this is not sufficient to segment desi sports betters – a particular market with its tastes and preferences for events as well.
Google Analytics data for the same period extracted from BetRallyIndia shows that Maharashtra drops down to third place among sport betting communities. Telangana with a much smaller population tops the charts with 22 per cent of betters. Karnataka is second with 17 per cent.
The two leading states’ combined population is less than Maharashtra’s total, yet they account for three times more sports betting users than the overall leader in gamblers. All three don’t have big differences in GDP per capita, and they all have lower poverty levels than India’s average. While it all points to some logical conclusions, some historical background and cultural preferences push trends decisively in their favor.
The Telangana Gaming Amendment Act of 2017 (to the original 1974 Gambling Law) explicitly outlaws online gaming and gambling, forcing fans and users to look for alternatives. Offshore sites and global betting operators give players that much desired chance to wager safely on sports.
Online betting demand is also different for particular sports. As expected, IPL cricket dominates in all three leading states, while the top two (Telangana and Karnataka) add badminton, football and kabbadi to top betting choices. This reveals a particular passion for gaming across the board for these states and their gambling communities.