The pandemic has given a boost to the online gaming industry, according to Anton Rublievskyi, CEO, PMI, a service company, engaged in the development and implementation of the expansion strategy for the Parimatch brand. According to Rublievskyi, the online betting platform Parimatch has seen a 33 per cent increase in its turnover. Speaking to BusinessLine , he touches upon the issues regarding gambling in India, along with his thoughts on why it should be legalized.

How has the pandemic really challenged the prediction gaming industry to become more innovative?

Pandemic has hugely changed the prediction gaming industry. Last year was great for the online gambling market despite the pandemic. As people stayed at home without the proper understanding of their future, as well as mankind as a whole, it was essential for them to indulge in activities that give them happiness and enjoyment. While everyone was following lockdowns and Covid-19 protocols implemented by their local governments, so they had tried to find new indoor activities to deal with the health crisis and its effects. As a result, many people had resorted to online gaming and gambling activities.

Over the past year-and-half, what is the growth that Parimatch has seen on its platform?

Every time there's an IPL, the industry shows a significant amount of growth. Search intent jumps up to 2.5-3 times, depending on the brand and its investments into the advertising. The amount of active customers per brand is growing very close to that number. There are some certain cohorts of players who just bet on IPL and reactivate every year just because of that. Referring to Parimatch’s success around IPL, the company's turnover grew by 33%. Since the IPL was postponed from April to October owing to the pandemic, we were a bit doubtful about how the turnout would be and the response in the betting landscape but we’ve seen a tremendous growth pattern ever since and a great response from the recently concluded IPL.

Also read: No interim relief for petitioners challenging Karnataka’s online gambling law

In the backdrop of a lot of backlashes over the iGaming industry, what is the way forward?

I would say creating strict rules and regulations and educating the legal authorities is the way forward. Betting players can help users to become the main drivers of legalization and I feel if the masses show their need then the government will listen to them and find ways to follow it. There are multiple examples in the emerging markets, such as Africa when legalization helped to boost the economy significantly. The massive availability of sports betting can create enormous taxes for the State and the nation as a whole. It can help the State earn money that can help them fund ongoing and upcoming projects, making them more progressive.

Is legalizing betting an option that could be weighed. If yes, why?

We would like to see betting getting legalised in India with a proper legal infrastructure to monitor the operations. We foresee State-by-State legalization in the next 3-5 years, the same way the US market has been doing it. Yes, India is a highly populated country hence introducing and imposing certain rules sometimes gets a bit difficult keeping different sentiments in mind but in the long run, if betting is legalised in a proper way in India, it can become a great revenue source for the country.

In our opinion, legalising betting can be a good source of income and can add to the economy with huge tax income, many new job opportunities (for both online and offline), proper legal tools to protect the players from the scam operators and fraudsters, proper payment providers to speed up the processes within the industry. And as a result of legalization - growth of the industry and “stigma” removal leading to the growth of the entire nation.