SBC Digital – India: Challenges and opportunities in the horse racing sector

India is one of the most prominent emerging markets in the global sports betting industry. Both online and offline gambling are legal in India, but it is up to regional state governments to form local regulations.

Speaking at the SBC Digital – India event on a Sportradar-sponsored panel entitled ‘Horseracing – leading the way to regulation’, Jaydeep Chakravartty, Vice President – Commercials at Markor Technology, and Suresh Paladugu, Director at North Alley, discussed the burgeoning Indian gaming industry.

In a panel session moderated by sports and gambling lawyer Vidushpat Singhania, the duo outlined how the market has developed so far, what challenges it faces and what opportunities can be identified for the future.

India’s horse racing industry has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the speakers argued that in some ways this had opened up new opportunities for online gaming.

In addition, the market opportunities presented by the country’s large population was highlighted, as was the importance of identifying and combating fraud.

“COVID-19 basically changed the game for horse racing in India I feel,” said Chakravartty. “Because there has always been a gradual progression from being offline to online, every industry is moving from offline to online in a very slow and gradual manner. COVID-19 – that’s a very big development that has taken place in India.”

Discussing the country’s potential as a betting market, he continued: “Now take as an example Calcutta, where I am presently, and just to give you an idea, though horse racing is restricted, or pending on horse racing, is restricted only inside the turf club, the state alone has 100 million plus population. So there is definitely a market for that kind of a product. Now, like I said earlier it was always restricted to a certain group, you can say only people with very strong interest in horse racing would get involved.

“Now by making this online, even if it means it’s online, within the boundaries of Bengal, there is a 100 million population. I think that opens up the possibility of reaching out to a wider audience.  And this is just one club I’m saying, so just coming to your point that even if there is no collaboration between different clubs. 

“So let say Calcutta is is running on its own, Bangalore is running, Mumbai is running on its own, there is no collaboration between the pool that is collected, but as a standalone club alone if that is exploited or that is promoted properly, that alone has the potential to reach to a certain level, which is much higher than what it is presently.”

Finally, on the issue of fraud, the Vice President said: “One thing that we all know that there is fraud in, in any event that takes place there is fraud in sports, that there is fraud in cricket also, with obviously match fixing, spot fixing  and all that came out.”

“Now we all know there is fraud or cheating that takes place in horse racing also, it takes place in India, there is no exception that in India also there is cheating that takes place now. Countries like the UK and Ireland have gone to a great extent to minimise the effect of cheating or fraud in horse racing.”

Paladugu agreed that the pandemic has opened up a new opportunity for online betting in India, as more and more bettors began to pursue online options, but also because it has led to India’s gaming operators pursuing a more unified, collaborative approach.

“We have seven race clubs and nine tracks across India. So talking about modernization and taking you from where they are to where we are now of course as Jaydeep has rightly said, COVID has expedited what probably would have happened, two, three years down the line. 

“But right now we are in a position where systems are all unified to certain extent, and we are in six of the seven race clubs in terms of technology standpoint, and working with other one as well. The idea is to get to the standards where globally we are in terms of racing which work for us as well.

“And that can be filled within India, because, in terms of really leveraging the global knowledge, and people like Jaydeep and a couple of other people. There is quite a bit of opportunity, and modernization that is required, which will help overall industry. There are certain hurdles that we will definitely touch upon during this discussion. 

“But that’s that’s what we are doing right now as we speak, working with all the clubs trying to unify as much as possible. There are certain hurdles; business, logistical, technical and other areas, and as much as possible from our end, we are trying to bridge the gap.”

Finally, Singhania also offered his opinion on the threat of fraud: “I think the challenge that is coming in with the online, I don’t think they are geared from what I understand, They are not geared up to tackle the online, and the nuances of checking these frauds, spotting frauds or also betting fraud.

“You also have a system of anti doping also in place, which is also tested and even there also there are injections given to horses and jockeys may also be engaged inside insider trading as what you’re trying to say. 

“So, for that there are kind of systems in place, there is this towards, and there is a punishment system in place. I think what we would need and I think so they should probably be able to highlight it.

“I think what we would need and I think so they should probably be able to highlight it. While we are in stage one just now. Stage one is actually developing the software and developing and getting the people engaged with a processor online or spending stage two will come where they have to start watching out on integrity pet monitoring insider information monitoring so surveillance.”

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

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