After waiting for almost a decade, Sikkim, nestled in the mountainous far north of India, finally got an airport in October, which is likely to provide a boost to gambling operators in the remote state.
Goa’s casinos are awaiting the results of elections that may be key to their future, as well as to broader efforts to push for further legalization of gambling across India. While previous administrations have threatened to close down the operations whilst in opposition, they have failed to follow through once in power. This time around there is another threat. An upstart political party that dominated elections in the capital area of New Delhi is expected to make a strong showing and threatens the future of the casinos.
The All India Gaming Federation recently conducted a one-day study and panel discussion throwing the spotlight on the tiny state of Sikkim, one of only three in the country where gambling is legal, with participants noting it could be a model for the rest of India to follow. The tiny Himalayan state has been leading the way in terms of gambling legalization, permitting sportsbetting, online betting and casinos.
Lawmakers in the Indian state of Maharashtra are considering moves to legalize casino gambling, while the Supreme Court has handed the decision on whether to allow sports betting over to politicians. Both moves are being followed closely by the industry, which views India as a potential sleeping giant in Asian gaming. With its 1 billion-plus population and rapidly expanding middle class, the market is seen as having huge potential.
India’s casino industry has not seen much progress over the past year and there are few indications that 2016 will bring any cheer, despite estimates of the country’s enormous potential and existing demand. With its 1.3 billion population, growing economy and booming tourism, the gaming industry in India has the potential to become a $4-billion market, analysts say, but investment and regulation is needed.