Located in Bangalore, the Bangalore Turf Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious horse racing clubs in the country. Established almost a hundred years ago in March of 1921, the horse racing club is looking to finally adapt to the internet and introduce online betting for its races!
Impact of the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic that started in early 2020 had an enormous effect on the economy of the country. Due to social distancing norms and a national lockdown, all sporting venues in the country shut down.
The Bangalore Turf Club also had to suspend its races but plans to resume them within the next two months. However, since the races would take place without any spectators, the club aims to introduce online betting once the races resumed.
Government grants approval for online betting
Karnataka’s state government provided the Bangalore Turf Club with an in-principal approval in July when the club announced they would be creating a mobile app that would allow punters to bet on the races online.
If online betting is permitted, the horse racing club argued that it would lead to a wider customer base, an increased turnover for the club, and eventually higher tax revenue for the government.
While the pandemic might have made online betting a necessity, the club had the wheels spinning in motion for two years by now. Initially, the club hoped to increase its revenue by going online, as betting was getting taxed at 28% under GST.
Is India warming up to legal online betting?
The subject of gambling is still a complex one when it comes to India’s legal landscape. The legal restrictions vary from state to state, and the laws for online gambling are still too vague.
Traditional physical casinos are legal in only a few states like Goa and Sikkim, and the law is not clear on using online casino sites and sportsbooks in most parts of the country. In many states, there are also legal government-sponsored lotteries and horse betting venues. The gambling laws in India can not deal with modern online casinos. The government’s amendments and rules would essentially decide the legal landscape for online gambling going forward.
Even with vague legality, gambling already contributes to government revenue, and a legal environment for gambling in India has the potential to increase the revenue. Additionally, it would also provide a better and safer environment for the players.
Currently, the best casino sites in India, like Royal Panda and LeoVegas, are offshore companies offering international services. The burden of disclosing winnings and paying taxes is on the player, and it can lead to tax evasion.
If in future domestic companies are allowed to run online casinos and sportsbooks in India, they will be able to use more robust tax-collection mechanisms like TDS.
Apps lead the way
India has one of the largest smartphone user bases globally, and most of the online gambling in the country happens via apps. If the Bangalore Turf Club’s online betting app is successful, it might inspire other industry sectors to innovate in the country. The bigger picture might lead to better regulation and legal support in the industry.