Two of Britain’s largest betting companies — Betfair and William Hill — are reportedly involved in the bidding process for an internet gaming licence in the Himalayan state of Sikkim; as is Austrian-based online gaming specialist Bwin. The first licence is due to be awarded in the next fortnight.
It is thought that the licences up for grabs in Sikkim — three are expected to be awarded in total — will be open to punters across India.
It is also expected that the anticipated success of online gaming sites in Sikkim will open up the rest of the country for similar licences.
Other companies reported to have an eye on the market, in time for next summer’s Soccer World Cup, are online company 888 and Ladbrokes.
A spokesperson for Paddy Power, meanwhile, said yesterday, regarding the market loosening in India: “While no decision has been made as yet, we are still interested in all opportunities for global growth.”
However, it is understood that India does not register on the Paddy Power growth radar just yet. As well as growing presence further in the British market this year, the company has successfully entered the online betting market in Australia — through the €27.2 million purchase of a controlling stake in that country’s industry leader Sportsbet.
It is thought Paddy Power is focusing more on opportunities closer to home. While it has said that it would be very interested in entering the US online gaming market, should that jurisdiction be opened up, France has emerged as a nearer-term probability.
The company’s entrance into the French market — anticipated within the first half of next year — is likely to be in the form of a business-to-business contract, with Paddy Power operating the online gaming functions of an existing provider.