New Pinnacle For Online Betting As India Poised To Reach 1 Billion Smartphone Users By 2026

In the next five years, mobile-friendly India is expected to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world—fueled by the growing demand for affordable mobile devices in the country as more people see the need to adapt to digital technologies, particularly in the rural sector.

New normal brings renewed focus on digital technology adoption

As of 2021, India already has an estimated 1.2 billion mobile subscribers—and 750 million of these are smartphone users. Deloitte analysts forecast that the number of smartphone users in the country will rise to 1 billion in the next five years, largely due to the fact that many users—particularly in the rural sector—are now embracing the use of digital technology in their daily lives.

Smartphones, in fact, now act as a catalyst for digital penetration across tier-2 and tier-3 markets in the country, following the new convenience-driven mindset by consumers who have been largely stuck in their homes during the long-drawn-out pandemic. Smartphone demand in the rural market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 6 percent, and at a CAGR of 2.5 percent for the market to reach an estimated cumulative of 400 million units sold in 2026.

“Higher internet adoption is expected to fuel demand for smartphones; this increased demand will be propelled by the need to adopt fintech, e-health, and e-learning,” according to Deloitte’s 2022 Global TMT (Technology, Media and Entertainment, Telecom) predictions.

5G enabled devices will fuel the growth of India’s smartphone market. Peeyush Vaish, partner and telecom sector leader at Deloitte India, expects 5G devices will make up 80 percent of the devices sold by 2026  with Indian consumers forecast to purchase 840 million 5G smartphones valued at US$130 billion over the next five years.

Online betting among key sectors driving rise of mobile phone use in India

The pandemic has ushered in an evolution of the new normal, which in turn, have brought in a renewed focus on tech adoption among many desi consumers who have been doing many of their regular day-to-day activities from home, be it work, study, business and even leisure activities. In this regard, online games have become one of the go-to casual entertainment options for many, given the ease, convenience and largely free gaming experience via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

For many consumers in India, where the love of gambling is deeply rooted in the culture, online betting is the new preferred pastime especially among desi sports who now have a vast selection of legitimate platforms where they can go for real-time betting options.

In the past, the largest online betting communities were found mostly in highly urbanized areas like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, composed of younger male players who are dominating the local betting scene. An ENV Media study on India’s sports betting trends found that online gaming for real money is mostly done via mobile phones, with an 87 percent share in the segment.

But as the Deloitte predictions have pointed out, the rural sector is catching up when it comes to the demand for a more robust internet adoption. Another big push for the rural communities is the government’s drive to “fiberize” all villages by 2025 under the BharatNet program. Without a doubt, the projected rise in number of smartphone users in India will usher in a new pinnacle for many industries, including the online betting—gambling in general—which will see a sheer growth in market base in the next few years. As the ENV Media researchers have concluded in their analysis of the market, “Digital technologies have brought novel betting opportunities to the market, with fantasy and esports becoming almost synonymous with the sports themselves. Their massive increase is also due to the convenience of mobile access and the fans’ desire to be (a rewarded) part of the glamorous world of sports stars. As a result, many cross-over business opportunities have managed to convert desi users from a passive audience to active consumers.”

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