Mumbai: Entertainment has become democratized and has become a necessity for all walks of life in India. In today’s ‘digital India’, the average Indian has found solace in some form of online gambling at some point in the day. There are different types of players, ranging from hyper casual games to strategic games to real money games. The rise of online gambling ecosystem in India has confirmed that Indians have definitely chosen online gambling as their medium of entertainment. The common motivation to entertain through OTT and games remains constant across all media, old and new: it’s a temporary escape from reality.
The pandemic has seen an unprecedented increase in gaming activity especially on old favorites like ludo, carrom or any other classic board game on their mobile to enjoy playing with friends and family. The soon to be multi-billion dollar online gambling industry has a lot to offer in terms of diversity of products, services, technological developments, employment opportunities, and more.
Although still facing perspective bias in India from key sections of society on issues ranging from addiction to taboo, the change in consumer behavior is here to stay. There are valid concerns about the stigmatization of gambling as harmful or dangerous due to investments of time or money, depending on the user segment, and the ecosystem will need to work with key government stakeholders to address this.
Needless to say, any excess has adverse effects, whether it’s binge eating, shopping, or gambling. This results in the need for higher levels of self-control from a user, which can occur if more power is transferred to the user’s hands. Spain recently mooted the idea of making it mandatory for all real-money gambling companies to ensure players select options on time and money limits at the start of each week so that they comply. their limits. Since it is difficult to unilaterally return power to players due to a conflict of business interests, regulations and policies need to compel operators to do so.
These issues don’t necessarily stem solely from real-money gambling, as there have been many unfortunate incidents reported of young children and families being affected by other forms of online gambling, such as first-person shooters. India will have to come up with some sort of framework to address various segments of the gaming ecosystem to ensure that these ventures remain a mode of entertainment and not an unexplained escape from reality. That said, some self-regulatory bodies proactively attempt to police operators by meeting certain standards of integrity, transparency, and responsible gaming for users. While these are good steps in the right direction, there must be more to follow.
With significant financial integration in online games, cyber fraud, foreign capital flows, the nature of advertisements, etc., have been major issues to address. Industry players have been on their toes and put these issues on their radar well ahead of everyone else. Like any growing industry, there is a need for incubation and support rather than rejection. In terms of annual mobile game app downloads, India tops the global rankings behind China. The sector is a significant contributor to the economy and is expected to create over 12,000 new job opportunities by 2023. Although the industry is mature and has self-regulatory measures in place, it is important to build and to develop a strong framework in collaboration with the government, not only to support, stimulate and monitor growth, but also to check irregularities and unfair practices that harm the Indian player.
The author of this article is Siddharth Sharma, Vice President of Head Digital Works – Business Strategy.