With famous sites such as the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, The Golden Temple of Amritsar, The Red Fort, it's no wonder India is such a popular destination for tourists. The size of the country means visitors can enjoy incredible beaches, mountain ranges, historical locations and have city experiences like no other. However, there is one area India lags others in, which, if given a boost, has the potential to generate vast revenues. This is gambling tourism, and there are strong arguments for and against it.
Gambling in India
Gambling in Indian has a long and complex history. Complicated because despite gambling's popularity, physical casinos are largely illegal across most of the country. There are pockets where casinos are allowed, such as Goa, and there they are very popular. By contrast, there is no law stopping Indian players from gambling at online casino that accept Indian ruppes– which has proven to be hugely popular. As such, some proponents of loosening India's gambling laws point to an opportunity not to be missed.
India's neighbours get in on the act
Other countries in the region have chosen not to dither by capitalising on the gambling interest. These countries include established hubs such as Macau, and other countries you might not immediately associate with gambling, such as Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Gambling was legalised in Macau in the 1850s and is one of two Special Administrative Regions in China. Betting is big business in Macau which raked in $29 billion from gaming and gambling compared to around $6 billion in Las Vegas. After Chinese people, the biggest ethnic group gambling in Macau are Indians. Those who look past Goa and Sikkim for bigger thrills are finding them at Macau's world-class casinos. There are over 40 casinos in Macau, and baccarat generates the most revenue when it comes to games of fortune.
Gambling in Singapore is nowhere near as big as Macau, and the government is not so keen on it, but it is a favourite spot for certain Indian gamblers who see it as a safe destination. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of Indian tourists in Singapore go to casinos. Many like the fact there are so many restaurants catering to Indian diets and tastes. There might not be many casinos in Singapore, but they are luxurious resorts offering all of the action players can find at popular spots like Las Vegas. One of the best casinos is the Marina Bay Sands which offers 15,000 square meters of exciting gaming space.
Gambling in Sri Lanka used to be taboo, but the country is in the process of legalising it. This is part of a bid to improve the economy, driven by visitors from India. The largest tourist group to the island are Indian travellers, and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board has stated their desire to focus on entertainment.
If the will is there
If other countries like the aforementioned three can turn a profit from casino gambling, there is no reason why India could not as well – provided the will to do so is there. At the moment, the desire of Indian players to gamble at online casinos or abroad is obvious, and with the right guidance, the authorities could well legalise it while using profits or taxation to prevent issues such as problem gambling from arising. With so many other countries getting in on the act, it could be simply a matter of time before the Indian government is forced to act or risk getting left behind.
This article was created in association with Raj.bet