everal major Internet gambling groups have been bidding for the potentially lucrative licence in India, which has an estimated gambling market worth well over us$ 48.7 million. William Hill, Betfair and Bwin are reported to be among the 13 companies who have made application.
Although the successful bidder will only be authorised to advertise and promote its services in Sikkim, a province in the Himalayas, it will be allowed to take bets from across India - access to a population of over a billion, many starved of wagering services.
Foreign companies going after the licence were required to have an Indian partner, and it is presumed that the bidding firms have secured this aspect before bidding.
Legal betting in India is presently confined to horse racing, generating annual revenues in the region of us$ 406 million, and casino gambling in the states of Goa and Sikkim. Some estimates place the value of wagering on the illegal 'black' market as high as us$ 40.6 billion, with over half of this being wagered by cricket-mad Indians, creating international corruption problems.
The successful bidder for the Sikkim licence will clearly be anticipating massive action from the World Cup of football being held in South Africa in June 2010.