Surveys, quoted by a recently published study on the Indian sports betting scene by the Pure Win research team, reveal that regular sports wagering enthusiasts view traditional sportsbook channels, online platforms, mobile betting apps, and fantasy sports leagues as "different expressions of the same fan-centred reality". Among the strongest motivators for sports bettors brought forth by the study are the desire to show off with one's skills and sports knowledge, enrich their sports fan experience, and make some money.
Just watching the games is not enough for many sports fans and online media outlets, sports analisator blogs and betting platforms provide them with the opportunity to get more deeply immersed in their passion.
Sports enthusiasts find it important to be able to brag to their friends and relatives about their knowledge of the sports and their skills in predicting results which gives them the means to socialize with the group.
Still, the financial aspect is seen as the main motivator for participating in sports betting by a majority of 68 per cent of punters. The fine balance between skill and chance, which carries a resemblance to actual sports, motivates 55 per cent of betting enthusiasts. The thrills brought by wagering and developing strategies entices 26 per cent, uniting sportsbooks and fantasy sports players.
The willingness to participate in sports-related wagering, measured at 30 per cent, is comparable to the disposition to gamble in general found in 33 per cent of the population, making sports betting the most preferred form of real money gaming online in the country. Not surprisingly, India rates second in the world in terms of player interest with 29 per cent to wager and spend money on virtual sports.
While online cricket betting in India holds a dominant position, with an estimated 80 per cent of all sports-related wagering in the country being based on cricket alone, other sports, such as football, tennis and basketball, and prominent global leagues are also rising in popularity across the country.
Wagering on simulated virtual sporting events and e-gaming leagues, together with online fantasy sports, is gaining traction, showing the future trends in sports-based real money gaming. The immersive nature, the flexibility, and the legitimacy brought by the recognized preponderance of skill in such hybrid genres are attractive to younger Indians.
Technological advances including Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), 5G networking, and others, are expected to boost the creation of more immersive media coverage and streamed content, leading to even more active involvement of virtual and real-life sports fans.
The Pure Win study analyses proprietary anonymous statistics on more than 69 thousand sportsbook players for a 15-month period between June 2020 and September 2021 in order to produce valid demographic insights for the Indian sports betting scene and profile the average desi punter.
Unlike other RMG genres where women participate ever more actively, sports betting is dominated by 84 per cent males. More than two-fifths or 41.7 per cent of all registered bettors are between 18 and 24 years of age, and together with people of the 25-34 age group constitute almost three-quarters or 72.6 per cent of the analyzed user base. Men aged 34 or younger generate 62 per cent of the online sports betting traffic.
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These findings bear a strong similarity to data provided by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which shows that 61 per cent of cricket fans are men and the average age is 34 years.
The older group of bettors, aged between 37 and 50, however, display higher levels of engagement, with nearly half of them participating in fantasy sports and other sports-related RMG games more than four times per week, while younger people engage in such activities between 1 and 3 times in a week.
It has been estimated that 140 million people in India bet regularly, and around 400 million do it around major sporting events such as ODI matches of Team India. The issue here is that, in the lack of a regulated sports betting environment, most of these people place their wagers in cash along illegal channels and black market bookies.
While leading online betting operators and fantasy sports platforms invest in their integrity, reputation, and public image, and strive to offer reliable and trustworthy services with a focus on customer protection, the black gambling market is as wild as it gets.
Moreover, estimates have shown that illegal cricket Satta alone leads to the loss of at least ₹2 lakh crore per year in terms of revenue collection for public finances.
Given the massive scale of sports betting in India, it would be a wise move for authorities to legalize the activity by providing a robust regulatory framework that will ensure a safe gaming environment for the public, creation of jobs, and redirection of large financial flows away from the black market and into legitimate and taxable channels.