Are online casinos the next big advertising trend in India?
Online casinos have become very popular in India, thanks to some pretty strict laws which prohibit brick and mortar casinos. Online casinos allow players to enjoy conventional table games like roulette, blackjack, and poker, as well as online slots. Websites and game developers constantly innovate to present newer and more interesting games to players, like the Dream Catcher casino by Evolution Games.
While the casinos are becoming popular by word of mouth publicity, many Indians are still unaware of them or consider them to be illegal. But that perception is gradually changing, thanks to some aggressive advertising by online casinos.
Live streaming of the recently concluded IPL contained advertisements for betway, while the 3 match ODI series between India and Australia had advertisements from both betway, as well as Dafabet. Both the tournaments were broadcast live on the Sony Liv app.
Recently, India has formed some strict advertising rules for games involving real money. The new regulations formed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which came into force from 15th December, mandate all private TV channels, as well as print media, to carry a disclaimer regarding the addictive nature of such games, as well as potential financial losses that may occur. The disclaimer should occupy at least 20 percent of the ad space.
In earlier days, ‘sin’ products like alcohol and tobacco were allowed to advertise themselves in India. But increased awareness and focus on health, such advertisements were gradually getting banned around the world, and India followed suit in 1995. This has led to an increase in ‘surrogate advertising’ through which liquor and tobacco companies promote their products under the garb of music CDs, mineral water, or soda. Such surrogate advertisements form a huge chunk of advertisement revenues for private TV channels.
Sports sponsorship is one of the main advertising ways for global betting sites. Today, 8 out of 20 football teams playing in the Champions League and the EFL have betting companies as their shirt sponsors, bringing in close to £110 million each year in revenues.
In India, the online fantasy gaming site was the principal sponsor of this year’s edition of the IPL, and recently another fantasy site, the MPL or Mobile Premier League was announced as a principal merchandise and apparel partner. While fantasy gaming is not illegal in India, they too carry a financial risk as it involves real money.
Out of the 11 teams competing in the ISL football league, 7 teams have betting website logos on their jerseys as a sponsor. While the real names of these sites are not used, they are starkly similar and bear resemblance to the actual site. Teams are sponsored by `news´ portals like DafaNews, PariMatch News, Indinews, and SBOTOP.net. All these websites have multiple links to their parent betting sites.
Increased popularity of sports betting and online gambling in India
Most online gambling and betting websites are witnessing double-digit year on year growth in India. The current size of online gambling in India is approximately $295 million and is expected to reach close to $600 million within the next 5 years.
While the core advertising target for betting websites are young individuals with disposable incomes, they are now diversifying into targeting mid-tier and smaller towns, by offering traditional games like Teen Patti and Andar Bahar.
There is no denying the fact that online gambling is here to stay and thrive. Rather than trying to ban it, the government should look towards forming laws and guidelines to better regulate them, and look towards generating a conducive environment, as well as offering a safe and legal space for them to operate.