A guide to starting an online casino in India 2021
When it comes to choosing a market for an online casino operation, it’s true that size matters. This is one of the reasons why you should keep India in your sights if you’re thinking of expanding your iGaming empire (or starting one).
Whilst it’s true that the online casino business is booming, and that the revenues for a well-run online gambling platform offer a tempting prospect for both investors and entrepreneurs, it also takes a lot more work than just purchasing a website domain name.
The roadmap to online casino success is long and multifaceted, which is why we have put this article together; to help guide you through all the various steps. So read on to learn everything you need to know about starting an online casino aimed at an Indian audience.
Why online casino operators are now choosing India as their preferred market
Home to over 1.3 billion people, did you know that India’s population is set to overtake China’s by 2028? This will make India the most populous country in the world.
Combined with enhanced connectivity from its expanding technology infrastructure, India’s online iGaming space is about to explode in its potential growth. Gambling in India is already estimated to be worth $60 Billion per year, and this figure is still in its infancy; especially once you understand just how many new people are connecting to the internet every year.
As one of the BRIC nations, and with showing no signs of slowing down, India’s economy is classified as an extremely rapidly developing market economy. It has the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity. Also, unlike China, India can claim the prize of being the world’s largest democracy, with over 400 million voters participating in its last election.
These population statistics alone should be enough to pique the interest of any prospective online casino owner. To put those figures into perspective, India’s population is over four times the size of The United States and is home to three of the world’s top ten largest megacities. So, if you’re someone who understands demographic scale, then you will certainly see the audience potential here.
As a rapidly developing nation, India is now home to nearly 700 million smartphone users. In terms of new internet usage growth, India is currently ranked 1st in the world with over 127 million new users getting online since 2019.
This is a growth rate of over 23% from the previous year, a fact which speaks volumes about the nation’s rapidly advancing technology infrastructure (which again, should pique the interests of any prospective online casino owners).
India also has an interesting linguistic diversity, with more languages being spoken than any other large country. However, Hindi and English are the most widely used and are both the official languages of the nation.
Many people are already aware that English is the most commonly used language on the internet with over 56% penetration, however, a lesser-known fact is that India has the second-largest amount of English speakers in the world. With over 125 million English speakers it has over twice the amount of English speakers that the United Kingdom does.
So, whether you speak English, or you are translating this page, it goes without saying that launching any online project in India from a language perspective is a lot more achievable; simply because of India’s wide usage of the internet’s most popular language. Think about it, there will be far fewer translation issues and more access to skilled digital workers, such as developers, VAs, security teams, etc.
When it comes to translating your iGaming operation into another major Indian language, such as Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, or Urdu; the digital talent pool will be much more accessible. This is a unique and often overlooked advantage that India offers in comparison to other large nations such as Brazil, Russia, or China.
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Now that you’re more knowledgeable of India’s enormous population size, rapid smartphone adoption, and vastly expanding technology infrastructure, let’s have a closer look at two other important aspects of running an online casino operation.
India's Gambling Licenses
At a brief overview, gambling in India varies state by state. This is because states in India are entitled to formulate their own laws for gambling activities, for example, some states like Goa have legalized land-based casinos, whereas in other states it is banned.
Common gambling activities like organized betting are generally restricted, except for selective categories including lotteries and horse racing.
At a national level there are 3 types of legislation to be aware of:
The Public Gambling Act of 1867:
This national law prohibits running or being in charge of a public gambling house. Whilst this does not specifically affect an online casino, it is worth being aware of the legislation.
The Prize Competition Act of 1955:
The Prize Competition Act was enforced by Parliament in 1955 to restrict games that awarded prizes as winnings. The law states that any prize competition where a prize is offered on solving a puzzle, either number, alphabet, crossword, missing word, or picture prize competitions, where the prize exceeds 1,000 Rupees shall be prohibited under the new Prize Competition Act.
The good news for you is that the law is not intended for gambling, only prize competitions.
The Information Technology Act of 2000:
This national act regulates cyber activities in India does not mention the words “Gambling or Betting” therefore the act was left for interpretation by the Courts which have refused to examine the matter.
The key thing to consider here is that even though Indian casinos cannot promote or have sites that promote online gambling games, such as casino, sports betting, and bingo, it is not illegal for non-Indian casino companies (offshore companies) to have sites that focus on Indian players.
In case you’re just skimming this article, let us just make that point absolutely crystal-clear for you again:
Now that you’re aware of the good news regarding operating, we’ll just add in that Slotegrator can of course assist you in attaining an online casino license that works within India, this process is explained further on in this article.
India's Payment systems
As well as being aware of India’s gambling legislation, it is also crucial to understand which payment systems are the most popular in India. This will be a key factor in determining how your online casino will operate, how players will transfer funds, and what fees your business will incur.
When looking at implementing any online payment system provider (PSP) into an online casino platform it is important to consider the following factors:
- Security and anti-hacking capabilities.
- Anti-fraud potential.
- Fast payment processing.
- Supports multiple currencies.
- Supports multiple payment methods.
- Good reputation, registered company, and online support.
So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways to pay online in India.
Paytm is an Indian e-commerce payment system and financial technology company, based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The service is available in 11 Indian languages and offers online use-cases like mobile recharges, utility bill payments, travel, movies, and events bookings as well as in-store payments at grocery stores, restaurants, parking, tolls, pharmacies etc. via the use of a Paytm QR code. As of January 2018, Paytm was valued at $10 billion USD and is planning to launch its initial public offering (IPO) in 2022.
GPay from Google is a very popular online payment method available in India. It allows users to pay and receive money instantly using existing bank account info (after registration) with no fees. The service works with all banks that support BHIM UPI. It works via API allowing you to negate using complex POS systems.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
Unified Payments Interface, also known as ‘UPI’ is an instant real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India. It facilitates inter-bank transactions and is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. The system works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts via a mobile platform. As of March 2019, there are 142 banks live on UPI processing a monthly volume of 799.54 million transactions at a value of ₹1.334 trillion ($19 billion USD).
For Merchants, UPI is great because it allows seamless fund collection from customers only using single identifiers, it doesn’t store virtual addresses, it offers single click 2FA facility to customers, and offers In-App Payments (IAP) which is perfect for online casinos.
Visa and Mastercard
Visa and Mastercard payments are also a secure method for processing online transactions in India. The two companies have been known jointly as the world standard for card payments for many decades now, however, it’s also been noted that their usage has been declining in recent years due to the uptake of other digital PSP options. Despite this, we believe it’s much better to offer online casino players as many options as possible when it comes to incoming payment options. So long as they are secure, which VISA and Mastercard are well known for being.
13 important locations in India
Now that you’ve learned more about India’s demographics, Gambling Laws, and most popular PSPs, we would like to highlight 13 important locations in India that you should keep in mind for audience targeting.
Delhi - The nation’s capital and the second-largest city in India. Home to the impressive Akshardham temple, India Gate, Lotus Temple, and over 25 million residents.
Mumbai - Mumbai is India's largest city and is the financial capital of the country generating 6.16% of India’s GDP.
Other important locations in India to consider - Karnataka, Madhya, Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh.
Online Casino Development Roadmap
The key to successfully launching any digital project online is to create a realistic development roadmap. It’s also just as important to understand the importance of integrating certain elements in the right order.
Typically, launching a successful online casino requires the following steps to take place:
- Self-validation for game integration
- Website Frontend Development
- Website Backend configuration and checking
- PSP integration and testing
- UI/UX checks (the physical interface of the website, such as buttons and links)
- License preview (to make sure your project is legal)
- Pilot checks (final sign-off before launching)
By following this roadmap and working together, we can assist you in launching your online casino project in both a timely and successful manner. At every stage of this roadmap, Slotegrator can offer help and access to digital experts in order to help facilitate a successful launch.
Typically, we discuss online casino launches happening in two phases:
- Pre Launch
- Post Launch
Understanding the differences between these two phases makes this whole process a lot easier to digest. The graphics below will give you a good idea of what percentage of time you need to dedicate to each area of the development roadmap.
Of course, it’s not just about launching your project, but also about making it sustainable.
In order to sustain your project you will need to consider a multitude of ways to digitally market it. We can’t underline that fact enough, and if you’ve looked at the two infographics above you will see that out of all the percentage figures, we consider marketing as the most important, hence why we have given it the highest percentile.
So, let’s talk about marketing your online casino then.
Acquisition and Retention
‘Acquisition and retention’ in the iGaming world quite simply means acquiring new players and keeping them interested in using your product. In marketing terms, this is known as a base level strategy because it often forms the foundation of a successful campaign.
But how do you actually acquire and retain players? Well, there are many, many different strategies that you can implement. Some strategies will actually cost you funds in order to execute, and some strategies will just require good ol’ fashioned hard work.
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Fundamentally the approach and desired outcomes are both the same, to create interest in your product, and to retain those players who are interested in it. So, read on, and we will elaborate on some proven methods.
Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as ‘SEO’ is a buzzword that often gets thrown-about by digital agencies and marketers, however, in layman’s terms, it is simply the process of positioning your website inside of a search engine so that users can find it when they are searching for particular keywords. In SEO language this is called ‘ranking’ and the aim of the game is to get to the top of the first page of search results.
There are many, many different strategies that can be implemented in order to do this, but essentially the desired outcome for any digital marketer is always the same, for your website to appear at the top of the search engine’s results page.
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts.
Much like SEO, there are a plethora of ways that this can be achieved, however, the desired outcome is always the same; to create more interest in your product.
Regardless of any preconceived notions you may have regarding affiliate marketing, within the iGaming world this type of marketing can get very interesting when you begin to really consider the many layers of engagement that can be created around an online casino project. Think about memberships, rewards, reviews, and of course, bonuses! Which brings us nicely to our next point.
As with any digital project, it’s absolutely critical to think about the product from the perspective of a prospective user.
The ‘customer experience’ (or CX for short), describes the journey a user will take as they navigate through a product’s experience. In this case, an online casino offering a variety of different games.
The customer’s focus will always be on the end product itself. The customer or user will never ever care about how many hours of development time you put into creating your product, the way you designed the logo or color palette you chose. They will not care what your Software Architect’s real name is. These things do not matter to them.
Your customer will only care about the product’s usability and the experience they derive from it. That’s it. If you can get to grips with that simple fact of marketing, then you are going to be well on your way to success.
Within the iGaming world specifically, one way of distinguishing your project from the thousands of other online casinos available, is to offer bonuses. In fact, bonuses can be an absolute deal-breaker for a lot of players. Bonuses form an integral part of the customer experience. A user’s decision on whether to use your product or not in the future can hinge entirely upon the bonuses you are offering.
We won’t go into the specifics of what bonuses you will need to offer here, as that will come further into the product’s development, but just be aware that they are extremely important and should never be overlooked.
Within iGaming, bonuses are everything. You get the bonuses right and you will have players returning back to your product time after time.
Remember, a good quality customer experience means that the user’s experience during all points of contact matches their expectations. If it exceeds their expectations then you are on your way to creating a truly memorable experience.
In story-telling, this is called ‘the hook’ (and is the reason why millions of people spend thousands of hours watching Netflix, reading celebrity gossip, and playing online games), if you can get that part right then you will be on your way to creating a great product; all because of those sweet, sweet bonus concepts you thought up.
VIP and Loyalty Programs
Essentially, VIP and Loyalty Programs are extensions of the philosophy and psychology behind bonuses. That is except that they go one step further in enhancing the customer experience, and that is by making the customer feel special.
To make a customer feel special, you have to make them feel valued by rewarding them for their time and input. Specifically the time and input they’ve put into playing your game.
Much like walking into a real-life casino and being seated behind the red velvet rope with a glass of champagne placed into your hand, the VIP treatment is a way of making the customer feel special.
It’s not the standard experience that every single player gets, this experience is only reserved for those who deserve it, hence where the acronym ‘VIP’ is derived from.
It’s “special treatment” reserved for very important players only.
Recreating VIP treatment and Loyalty Programs within a digital environment of course requires a different approach, and just like bonuses (above), we won’t go into the specifics right now, but just be aware that the strategies you choose regarding this topic are crucial to the success of your product.
Remember, a Loyalty Program, or VIP offers, needs to go beyond just having your 10th roulette spin free; it should be viewed as an integral marketing tool. One that not only helps retain players but also encourages them to spend more time with your online casino experience.
You have to consider that for a lot of high-stakes, or professional players, your online casino won’t be the only place where they spend their time. By offering Loyalty or VIP programs, you can persuade them to spend more of their time using yours though.
Games and Software
Okay, so we have covered a lot of ground regarding the development and marketing strategies that Slotegrator offers, but what about the actual games themselves?
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that if you want to create a successful online casino project then you are going to need to offer lots of high-quality games for your players to immerse themselves in.
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iGaming players are not only there simply to try and win but to also enjoy the gaming experience itself. As we mentioned earlier, the gaming experience itself is part of the marketing strategy, part of ‘the hook’ that acquires and retains players. So in order to do this, you will have to offer a variety of fun, immersive and engaging games to offer your prospective players.
Luckily for you, Slotegrator offers more than 5000 games for online projects. We have hundreds of different slots, card, and board games available. Games with either live dealers or virtual sports available for betting on. We have working relationships with a variety of internationally recognized game developers such as Amatic, Microgaming, Endorphina, TomHorn, Habanero, and the list goes on and on. Game developers that have received recognition from millions of gamers around the world.
By partnering with Slotegrator your project will have access to the best iGaming software available. This is because we have already done the hard work for you by sourcing the very best software providers.
Key Performance Indicators
Measuring success is an important topic that you will want to think about as your online casino project grows.
If you don’t know how to measure success, or have never heard of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before, then it’s very important that we discuss this topic.
Much like creating a development roadmap for your project, it’s just as important that you set yourself some KPIs in order for you to gauge the progress of your project’s development, especially after it’s launched.
Measuring success in iGaming loosely revolves around 3 KPIs.
- Revenue KPIs:
Gross Gaming Revenue, Net Gaming Revenue, NGR-to-Deposits, Bets-to-Deposits.
- People KPIs:
Сonversion Rate, Player Lifetime Value (LTV), ChurnRate, AttritionRate.
- Hybrid KPIs:
Cost Per Acquisition, Average Revenue Per Use.
Forming an Online Casino Team
In order to create a successful online casino, you will need to put together a team of specialists to run the various operational parts of the business.
Essential roles that need to be fulfilled:
C-Suite management roles:
- Director / CEO / Founder
- Chief Technical Officer
- Chief Legal Officer
- Chief Financial Officer
- Chief Operating Officer
- Website Operations — Website’s UX and UI, visibility, traffic, maintenance, updates
- Project Management -— Dealing with stakeholders and vendors, accomplishing other tasks
- Business Analytics — Analyzing data and providing statistical insights
- Software Development — Website’s backend and frontend
- Finance — Deposits, withdrawals, procurement, and banking campaigns
- Marketing — Player acquisition and retention campaigns
- Legal and Compliance — Monitoring of online gambling regulations
- Fraud control — Detection of any suspicious activities
- Customer service and engagement — Player complaints and inquiries
Your gaming content should be based on your target audience, so it’s important to do lots of research on what games are popular. In short, it is better to offer the widest selection of games possible in order to appeal to as many players as possible.
Yes, but you need to find a niche and find the right target audience. You must listen to your audience feedback in order to build your brand. Find the right tone of voice and take time to focus on marketing.
It can be a multitude of different reasons, but some of the main ones are - poor website design, weak marketing strategy, low selection of games, not analyzing data or results, or not offering enough languages in your customer support team.
This depends on how big you wish your online casino enterprise to become. We have listed what we believe to be an adequate amount of roles above. One thing we can assure you of is that it cannot be done without other members of staff.
Although SMS marketing is considered quite ‘old school’ it’s important to understand that India’s technology infrastructure is rapidly expanding with many new internet users only recently coming online for the first time this year. If you feel that your target audience would be receptive to SMS marketing then it’s important to consider it as an option. This is why researching your audience is so important. Setting up landing pages and funnels to aggregate data is also another aspect of engaging your audience.
How can Slotegrator help?
Slotegrator’s mission is to facilitate growth within the iGaming sector specifically for its partners and clients. Essentially, we act as a bridge that connects various sectors of the iGaming industry together, especially when it comes to helping vendors launch new projects or enter new markets. We take your vision for an iGaming project and then help turn that vision into a reality.
Founded in 2012, we have spent over 8 years working with the online gambling market, have 100+ employees worldwide, and have launched over 80 iGaming projects worldwide. We pride ourselves on being able to offer entirely customizable designs and features for online casino games, offer 24/7 tech support, and can get most projects fully online and running within 4-12 weeks.
Payment Systems Integration
For seamless PSP integration into your online casino project, we recommend using Moneygrator.
Moneygrator is a solution that combines multiple payment systems for the iGaming industry within a single application. It delivers a smooth online payment experience to your website visitors and allows you to keep track of revenues in real-time.
It includes over 20 leading payment service providers offering more than 140 payment options available after a single integration. It also features a coherent technology able to seamlessly switch between payment processors in case of a transaction failure, leading to increased conversion and satisfaction of your customers.
For seamless games integration, we recommend using APIgrator.
Just as the name suggests, APIgrator is a solution for seamless integration of a diverse range of online casino games and sports betting content into online casino platforms. The cross-functional API solution integrates software from a variety of game developers in a single session allowing you to quickly add a variety of games to your online casino project. APIgrator makes it possible to launch more than 5000 games from multiple game developers in a prompt and cost-effective manner.
Gambling License Acquisition
As mentioned earlier in this article, Slotergrator can assist you in acquiring a gambling license for your online casino project. Essentially, these licenses allow new vendors to legally start and run online casinos, as well as enhancing the credibility of their business.
Obtaining a gambling license will help you gain the trust of your players, cooperate with leading game developers, enter profitable markets, and successfully grow your business.
In a nutshell, you won’t get far without one. Remember, within India specifically it is illegal to operate without one as an off-shore company.
To learn more about Gambling License Acquisitions, click here.
White Label Online Casino Package
If the entire online casino start-up process is beginning to sound too daunting to you then fear not. Slotegrator actually offers a ‘White Label’ package which is a complete online casino project ready-to-go. All you need is a brand new name along with some design and branding input.
If you have “the vision” and would be interested in a complete launch package tailored to your needs, click here.
Leave it to the professionals
As a leading software developer in the iGaming industry, we are always ready to share our industry knowledge and advise operators on any complicated issues they may face. Moreover, our solutions for developing and launching online projects, as well as our gambling license acquisition services, can save you both time and money. Fill out the form and our managers will contact you shortly.