At first glance, the commonalities between gambling and cryptocurrencies in India might not be obvious. However, the seemingly unrelated topics are closely aligned when it comes to their official status. The Indian government has largely shown a reluctance to settle once and for all the legal status of gambling and cryptocurrencies. It’s no wonder some Indian citizens are a little confused. Both cryptocurrency and gambling offer ways of potentially making money, and both are hugely popular within India. Here we look at whether cryptocurrencies could affect the legalisation of gambling in India.
It’s no secret Indians like playing games, are passionate about sports, and have gambled for centuries. What blurs the situation is that gambling within India is largely illegal. Visiting a physical casino is virtually unheard of except in a few select locations. On the other hand, Indians have no problem visiting an online live casino, as long as they are based offshore. There, Indian gamblers are betting on:
- Card games such as Andar Bahar and Teen Patti
Some online casinos now allow their Indian customers to make deposits in Rupees and have support teams that speak the local language. As such, Indian gamblers are flocking to these operators in huge numbers. It’s estimated that as much as 80% of Indians bet at least once a year. With a population of over a billion people, it is no wonder online casinos are bending over backwards to attract as many Indian gamblers as possible.
Cryptocurrency – another grey area
Like gambling, the government’s stance on cryptocurrency is a little unclear. During the COVID-19 era, there was a huge increase in investment in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin which saw its value skyrocket. In India, lockdowns prompted Indian investors to renew their interest in cryptos, putting them back within the regulator’s scope. For now, cryptocurrencies are not illegal, and exchanges operate in India, but the government has made it hard for them to operate.
This puts Indian crypto investors in a tough position because there is a perceived lack of protection. The government seems more interested in avoiding money laundering, which makes sense, but overlooks the legal avenues for using cryptocurrency. One proposed law is to create an official digital currency, issued by the Reserve Bank of India. For now, crypto exchanges continue to operate while the government works out how to implement any changes.
So will cryptocurrency affect gambling?
At the moment there is no strong evidence linking cryptocurrency with India’s gambling legalisation. Both are areas that the Indian government seems happy putting off dealing with until a later date. If anything, the indicators coming out of New Delhi point to stricter cryptocurrency regulations, while showing little interest in changing gambling laws. For now, it seems Indian gamblers can rely on being able to bet offshore, whereas the crypto issue could change at any time.