Real-money gaming has always been a favourite pastime for Indians. There are, however, some regions in the Union that have a propensity to enjoy online casino games and betting more. We find out which cities and states have embraced the habit of online gaming more than the others and – more importantly – why that is the case.
Our industry experts explain India’s online gambling penetration based on primary research data and public statistics. The segmented trends are influenced by demographic, economic and social factors, and point to several parts of the country, mostly urbanized, that provide the majority of desi online gambling communities.
As of mid-2022, more than half of India’s population is reported as active online users. An exciting gambling market, it attracts the best global operators and offshore platforms.
The rising urbanization (35%) across the nation has made it easier for online products and services to reach the desi society. What’s more, the 54 urban agglomerations with over a million citizens are increasingly made up of people below the age of 45, already over a billion in total.
The standard of living has also been improving, somewhere faster than in other regions, admittedly. India’s middle class is already around estimated at 350 million people. And despite the inequalities, we have long seen well-developed metropolitan areas with world-class facilities and top-level services in commerce, entertainment or sports.
A growing middle class also means more propensity – and disposable income – dedicated to premium consumption categories like education, wellbeing, recreation and gaming. Statistics show that states like Goa, Sikkim, Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Kerala, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have annual economic output over Rs 200,000 per capita. This is easily tied to elevated standard-of-living indicators and consumption trends.
Online gaming propensity is also high in states like Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh but there are other factors which make some gambling communities stand out more than others. Internet penetration and actual online gambling presence are tied to low poverty rates and are often directly proportional to the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) which grades factors like the economy, life expectancy, education and social cohesion.
The largest young gamer base in the World is especially active and visible in urbanized areas. States like Delhi and Kerala lead in Internet penetration but the technologically developed South quickly catches up. Major IT hubs like Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai are always in the top 5 of active users.
Quite relevantly, rural areas seem to catch up in absolute numbers, with strong annual growth of 18%. Despite the fact that many in the countryside still lack access to online services, the total user market is expected to hit 900 million by 2025, largely due to affordable smartphones (75% dominated by devices under Rs 10,000 mobiles).
Modern fintech solutions and cheaper data plans also contribute to narrowing the digital gap. This pushes online gaming platforms to come up with more diverse approaches to player engagement and monetization. Media exposure has been proven essential in bringing mobile entertainment to end-users, and it is proportional to the propensity to gamble online. States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Goa, AP, Mizoram and Telangana all have average levels of media exposure above 95%, with a slight gender gap across the Union.
While physical distancing has gradually become less of a factor in our daily lives, the demand for online entertainment and mobile gaming has remained at peak levels, our study has found. Young and dynamic user bases push multimedia consumption and consumer engagement through social media is already at 40% of all internet users.
There are several main drivers of online gaming growth but none like the increased use of technology in our daily lives.
Source: KPMG Report “Online gaming in India: Reaching a new pinnacle”
India’s tech-savvy youth not only defines the consumer profile. It also determines the market offer and expectations, increasingly bent on more original desi content across digital media, entertainment and gaming.
Our primary data (based on 78 thousand registered users’ access) reveals the following states as having the most traction in online gambling – in terms of player visits, registrations and gaming sessions.
Maharashtra leads by a lot in total gamer traffic but Telangana, West Bengal and Karnataka also rate fairly well with nearly 10% shares. Most of these have less population in poverty than the national average, as well as relatively high HDI. Maharashtra, in particular, has a considerable population and at least two metropolitan areas (Mumbai and Pune) which pushes its total shares to over 1/6 of all user sessions.
Despite their gambling fame, Goa and Sikkim are missing, both because they have licensed offline casinos as well as a rather limited state population.
The same ranking offers another look of local development indicators:
Uttar Pradesh is among the top 5 because of its huge population – largest in India. Yet, despite being 12 times more populated than NCT Delhi, it reports the same total number of active online gamblers.
The North currently provides the majority of online gamers and it will continue to do so in a mid-term perspective (2027). The constant rise in mobile use and better internet infrastructure should help the South close these gaps in the long run, particularly with its economic growth leading to more spending on leisure and entertainment.
Our Google Analytics data on sports betting sessions provides another perspective on online gambling trends. Sports betting is a more pronounced in some parts of the country, with the leaders shown below:
Telangana and Karnataka seem almost unchallenged, with the former providing almost a quarter of all sports bettors. The population does not matter as much in this case, apparently, as media exposure, economic development and the passion for sports drive up engagement.
Crucially, Telangana banned online gambling within state limits in 2017, among the first to do so explicitly. Fans simply responded by looking for online alternatives and offshore operators have been posting record numbers from the state.
Hyderabad and Bengaluru also play their part, being two of the nation’s most prominent digital hubs. Young professionals follow global trends and make up for a particular client pool with a penchant for sports betting (not only cricket but global leagues as well).
Higher desktop usage for betting in these states is tracked through office-hour access and workstation wagering. The popularity of fantasy sports there is also high, stressing the total involvement of local gamers with the topic.
More recently, there has been another trend showing in online gambling statistics. While traditional desi table games still rank high – particularly among family members, mostly via casual apps – some games previously found only on Casino floors have been gathering visibility.
Roulette, blackjack and slots have been more visible in the online gaming space among modern Indians. PureWin’s own data shows that in the first 30 online casino titles by turnover, roulette games generate as much as two-thirds, an astonishing performance for the desi market.
Regional differences persist, of course. Delhi gamers have shown to prefer slots while Karnataka plays traditional games in addition to roulette. Rajasthan prefers baccarat while Telangana and Maharashtra spikes in roulette game sessions. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh also confirm their disposition for sports betting, confirmed organic traffic and betting sessions.
The below table lists the favourite games in various States by biggest player turnover:
With the booming popularity of online and mobile gambling, pinpointing the “gaming capital” of India is practically impossible. Mumbai confirms its standing in urban culture as a thriving gambling hotspot. However, all of the Union’s Tier-1 metropolitan areas and some well-developed agglomerations report consistent online player numbers. Economy, technology and accessibility inevitably play a big role across the country.
The top 6 urban areas – Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad (in addition to the leader Mumbai) – are all quite visible and influential among online gambler communities. They comprise almost two-thirds (62.1%) of all active gamblers, based on the examined player sessions. Pune, Ahmedabad and Surat also provide consistent player numbers.
However, as young middle classes rise in numbers outside these areas, we expect to see less-densely populated regions exert more influence on the gambling market. Social gaming, localized content and language versions (in Hindi but also Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu or Tamil) can go a long way towards expanding the popularity of online gaming across India.