The main goal for introducing a legalised sports betting framework across India is to protect the end user, said Sportradar’s William Howie, who stressed that regulated operators have a responsibility to ensure that their offering is more engaging than that of the grey market.
Howie, Head of Premium Cricket at Sportradar, spoke as part of a cricket-focused panel at this week’s SBC Digital India alongside Connecting Brands’ Founder Russell Yershon and Seemant Shankar, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of Sports Unity Private Limited.
The panel discussion was led by Domenico Mazzola, Commercial Director of Altenar, who sponsored the session.
When addressing the regulatory elephant in the room, Howie raised concerns over the lack of safeguards in place for players betting through the ‘underground market’, but highlighted the government’s interest in introducing more protective measures.
“I think that one of the most important points to consider is the protection of the end user,” he said. “This is something that the government is interested in, and that is the key difference between a regulated and an unregulated market.
“I think sometimes when discussing regulation, we can get confused with all of the conversations about the inner workings of the business, such as taxes and benefits to international companies such as ourselves.
“We must not forget the true purpose of regulation which is to protect the man on the ground who is actually interacting with the market. At the minute, that isn’t happening at all.
“We know from our study that the Indian underground sports betting market is a multi-billion dollar market. This means that there’s a substantial amount of people interacting with that market who are currently unprotected and are effectively betting at the hands of criminals who are running the industry.”
So can cricket be a vehicle for promoting the benefits of sports betting regulation across India? According to Yershon, the answer is a resounding yes.
He added: “I think cricket can be absolutely massive. We know that cricket is the number one sport in India, and we know that it’s the number one sport which is bet on. There’s lots of turnover when it comes to betting on cricket, which can definitely help the regulation.
“I’m sure for the government in India, sports betting legislation can progress, there’s going to be significant earnings that they can make once everything is regulated because the turnover is going to be so high. The taxes that the government is going to have from regulating the market is going to be huge.”
The potential for additional revenues for the government was a sentiment echoed by Shankar, who believes that in 2021, gaming will become a major focus for legislators.
“In India, cricket is a religion,” he remarked. “If you’ve noticed, the following of the sport in terms of volumes – even if you look at this on a global level – is one of the largest. Having the second largest population in the world probably helps this.
“If you take a look at the cricket betting and gaming industry, up until now, it has been majorly in the black. It hasn’t been regulated, and has been deemed illegal and banned.
“Over the last year because of COVID, gaming has become a major focus for the government. They do believe that there is massive revenues to be made. Regulation is needed purely because they want to protect its citizens from fraud or illegal gaming. As a nation, I feel that we’re moving in the right direction.”
For those eyeing new opportunities within the Indian market, there are a few core things that one must consider, explained Howie – namely ensuring that your offering is more ‘enticing’ than that offered by the unregulated market.
He said: “I think that when entering a newly regulated market, the key thing will be to have decent Managed Trading Services as part of your operation, such as Sportradar’s MTS. This allows you to adequately observe business coming in and therefore comply with any regulations in the new market.
“Operators should also consider contributing to a system like Sportradar’s FDS – the Fraud Detection System. One of the major benefits of regulation is to crackdown on corruption. Bringing that back specifically to cricket, the sport has a bad reputation with betting.
“The reputation around betting in cricket is often associated with match fixing, corruption and cheating. To break down that reputation and to make the game safe from corruption, what we need to do is police the market properly.
“With specific regard to cricket, the product that operators need to provide needs to be better and more enticing than the current offerings available via the underground market. They need to offer more markets, they need to have more uptime, better engagement , better support and ultimately show that to the end user which the underground market is currently failing to do.”
SBC Digital India is the premier online event for igaming in India and will deliver a fully virtual and interactive conference, exhibition and networking experience to delegates with an interest in the igaming industry.
Taking place from 27 – 28 January, the event includes a star studded roster of speakers and sessions over two days providing insight across igaming, skill games/DFS, casino and more.
To register for your free ticket, click here