Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is bullish about online gaming, specifically casino gaming. In fact, he views it as the next big thing in India. Economic Times India reports that online gaming revenue is expected to climb from $610 million (₹43.8 billion) in March 2018 to $1.61 billion (₹118.8 billion) by the end of 2023.
Gaming’s ‘huge potential’
Online gaming, according to Ambani, has “a huge potential” to grow to unprecedented heights in India. “Gaming will be bigger than music, movies and television shows put together,” says the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Curiously, Ambani says that online gaming doesn’t really exist in India just yet. But that didn’t stop him from making his forecast. That’s because he sees the massive potential that increasing broadband connectivity can offer. Ambani’s wireless upstart, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., has already enticed some 380 users to 4G, though it remains to be seen whether or not it will actually get involved in online gaming. Nevertheless, giving fast internet access to India’s over 850 million smartphone users will drive online gaming’s growth.
A preview of things to come
The rising popularity of fantasy sports, which is a sub-sector of online gaming, offers a peek into the possible trajectory of the industry. At the moment, playing fantasy games has become a huge deal in India, with 74% admitting that they play 1–3 times per week. Crucially, 20–25% spend their own money playing fantasy, while 70–75% reinvest their winnings or bonuses.
Such is proof that there is already a market of players for online gaming. It has gotten so big that there are now initiatives to regulate the industry, including the Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill proposed by Shashi Tharoor last year. Such proposals will safeguard India’s estimated 120 million or so players, and let online gaming grow over time.
A worldwide trend
Online gaming isn’t just the next big thing for India, it is a rapidly growing industry across the globe. In fact, it is projected that the industry will reach $94 billion (₹6.8 trillion) in five years. This translates to an annual growth rate of 10.9% between 2018 and 2024. Much of this growth will be driven by Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
The global growth of online gaming can be mainly attributed to a worldwide increase in internet access. This improved access, in turn, has ushered in a new demographic of gaming enthusiasts — many of whom are enticed by fast and easy gameplay and, more importantly, the eye-popping prizes offered by some online games. Gala Spins details how daily online tournaments can be worth up to ₹109 million with multiply chances to win during the year. These huge prizes, coupled with increased accessibility, have continuously drawn people from all walks of life to these types of games.
Ambani is on to something
Ambani’s prediction for online gaming is a bold one. But the stage is set for the industry to take-off: increased internet access, more smartphone users, and a growing market of players. In a few years, Ambani will likely be proven right. And his company will be at the forefront of this movement.
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