The online gaming and gambling industry in India is growing at a frightening pace. Indeed, by some estimates, it could exceed $7 billion in value by 2026. For this reason, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been drafting legislation for some time that would give the government greater control over online games involving real money.
As well as tightening the rules surrounding client registration and know-your-customer (KYC) protocols, the new laws are also expected to afford individual states the authority to impose outright bans on games of chance. But will this raft of much-anticipated legislation have an impact on betting using Bitcoin, as well?
Big changes on the horizon
The Online Gaming Regulation Bill was first introduced into the Indian parliament in late spring of 2022 and contained a number of proposals, including greater control of real-money games and a heightened tax bracket of 28% (up from 18%) for all those involved in the industry. What’s more, this figure would apply to all revenue, rather than merely profits, as was the case prior.
That amendment is expected to leverage significantly more funds for the government’s coffers, but it will undoubtedly leave domestic operators at a disadvantage against more established overseas companies. What’s more, the fact that individual states could impose arbitrary bans on gambling means that their existence could become even more precarious very soon.
Cryptocurrency a grey area
When it comes to cryptocurrency, the upcoming legislation affects Bitcoin betting in some ways and not in others. For example, the government ruled at the beginning of 2022 that crypto assets were not illegal, but that they should be taxed in the same ways as gambling winnings. That means they are likely to be subject to the same higher threshold.
On the other hand, the fact that crypto is not a fiat currency makes it something of a grey area when it comes to defining Bitcoin betting as a “real-money” game, and indeed where it lies on the crucial differentiation between luck and skill. As a result, Bitcoin betting remains unregulated in India and punters are free to visit operators like the Sportsbet io website to place wagers on any market or game they desire.
Regulations in the pipeline
Having said that, the government is expected to focus on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the not-too-distant future. That means that the practice of betting via these portals could be subject to more stringer regulations in 2023 or beyond, so it’s important for players to stay abreast of the latest developments to ensure they remain on the right side of the law.
At the same time, December 2022 saw four banks across four Indian cities roll out the trial of the e-Rupee, India’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Intended to facilitate payments for goods or services and the transfer of funds using virtual money, the outcome of the CBDC trial could have major repercussions for any legislation which focuses on cryptocurrency in the coming months and years.
Betting using Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency) currently remains unregulated in India, so customers can use whichever overseas site they like to indulge in the activity. However, tighter rules are likely on the way.