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India’s Plans for a Crypto-Powered Browser and its Online Gambling ImplicationsIndia announced its plans for a state-backed web browser with blockchain integration, promoting secure transactions, paving the way for a thriving digital economy, and potentially boosting crypto-gambling despite contradictory local gambling laws.
With its incredible population size, highly skilled workforce, and constantly improving internet access India is known worldwide as a provider of low-cost technology support. Despite this deep acceptance and specialisation in a wide range of tech fields, the country has been very resistant to the adoption of online gambling and decentralised cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
As early as 2021, the Indian government called for a ban on using Bitcoin, citing its intention to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the Digital Rupee, as the main reason. Online gambling has also struggled to find its feet in India, with only Goa, Daman and Sikkim allowing games of chance and Nagaland online allowing for skill games.
National Web Browser Inbound
A known fact about India's internet usage is that most of its population uses it on mobile devices. To capitalise on this expansive user base, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has announced that it plans to launch a state-backed web browser saying:Quote
"Proposed browser would also focus on accessibility and user-friendliness, ensuring built-in support for individuals with diverse abilities.”
To engage local development studios, the government has opted to forgo contracting a single entity to build the browser, instead making it an open competition. Developers will participate in three stages, with eighteen entrants passing through to the second stage and only eight making it to the third stage.
After that, the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up, will be chosen, with the winners receiving a share of a total prize pool worth around €375,000. The winner will also receive the contract to develop the final browser.
Why Develop a Native Browser?
MeitY is not funding this project's competition and building costs out of a sense of civic duty. As with any government investment, there has to be an upside, or they would not bother.
The best option is to follow the money whenever the motive appears unclear. At the core of the brief for the Indian web browser is implementing digital security, data tracking, and online transacting using the blockchain.
The MeitY press release notes:Quote
“Moreover, the browser envisions the ability to digitally sign documents using a crypto token, bolstering secure transactions and digital interactions."
The government stepped back from its 2021 call to ban Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It is now perfectly legal to own and trade digital tokens in India, as the government charges a hefty 30% tax. They are taxable in this way as cryptocurrencies are legally seen as assets and not legal tender in India.
With significant income from crypto taxes, its own plans for a digital Rupee, and a massive mobile internet user base, it makes perfect sense for the government to spearhead the adoption of a crypto-powered browser as a way to maximise its revenue generation potential while creating a technologically sound base for its digital economy.
Does This Bode Well for Crypto Gambling?
A recent report by H2 Gambling Capital showed that global mobile gambling is currently worth €55 billion and is predicted to surpass €109 billion by 2028. On the surface, having all of India use a mobile browser with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency transacting baked-in sounds like a step in the right direction.
However, the challenge this presents is the loss of decentralisation in the region. The new browser, with all its tools, will be controlled by the Indian government. This means that all of their inherent biases towards instant slots and other casino games will be enforceable through this piece of technology.
With more people being exposed to crypto on the blockchain, they are more likely to use alternative decentralised solutions when the government attempts to lock them into its closed systems.
Should that occur, the crypto-gambling sector could experience a massive influx of blockchain users from India looking to take advantage of the instant cross-border banking, enhanced anonymity, and low fees the system was designed to offer.
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