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Is COVID-19 Taking Betting Back to the Streets in India?

Online sports betting is normally big business in India. Estimates suggest that around Rs 3 lakh crore changes hands on sports betting every year through a combination of different sources including several tech-related channels.

One such channel is Jeetwin which is fast becoming the biggest sportsbook for India. The brand has developed a reputation for tailoring its services to Indian players. However, the cessation of sports during the COVID-19 crisis has caused some problems for the online betting industry. In contrast, some of the illegal street bookmakers in the country have been taking bets about the virus itself. So, is betting returning to the streets in the long-term or will online sportsbooks prevail?

Illicit bookmakers making money from COVID-19 wagers

Ever since sports were suspended, both in India and internationally, people in India have been keen to find other things to place bets on. This has led to illegal bookmakers on the streets taking bets on what will happen with COVID-19.

In the early days, this included betting on when the pandemic would come to an end. However, since the situation has progressed the targets of betting have changed. Now, people are betting on statistics such as the infection rate and the death toll. Bets involve predicting whether figures will increase or decrease. They are usually placed during secretive phone calls.

There are a couple of reasons why betting on the pandemic is so popular; statistics are readily available and there has been no sporting alternative to bet on. However, that situation is starting to change.

Online sports betting coming back as sports return

Sport is already starting to return in different parts of the world. There is even talk of crowds attending Premier League football games in England as early as the start of next season. This means that online sportsbooks are now able to offer fans the chance to bet on sports again.

Of course, the situation with sports in India is different as they are yet to make a return. Although, talks have begun about when the IPL will take place. The start is being cautiously planned for around September time, depending on whether or not the World T20 is rescheduled. If the IPL does take place this year, it’s possible that it will happen outside of India. However, cricket fans in the country will still want to bet on the tournament.

As more sports start to return, so sportsbooks will be able to expand their offerings and sports betting will start to return to the online world.

In summary

Online sports betting was a booming industry in India until COVID-19 took hold and sport temporarily came to a standstill. At that point, many people in the country chose to place bets with illegal offline bookmakers, concerning the outcomes of the pandemic.

However, now that sport is gradually starting to come back, sportsbooks are back in action. They are likely to continue dominating the betting market in India, especially as more sports start to return in the country.

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