Gamblers in China love baccarat. Their local gambling capital, Macau, features mini baccarat tables all over casino floors.
China also has a massive population (1.4 billion) that’s passionate about the game and boosts baccarat popularity everywhere from Macau to Las Vegas.
India shares some similarities with China, namely that it also boasts a huge population (1.3 billion) and is located in Asia. Does India also have the same passion for baccarat?
You can find out as I explore this country’s like and dislike of the game and what other casino games they play.
Baccarat Is One of the Top Casino Games in India
I’ll cut to the chase. India, like China, also thoroughly enjoys playing baccarat. Many Indian gamblers find baccarat to be one of the most compelling forms of gambling.
Baccarat is heavily prevalent throughout the country’s underground (and illegal) gambling houses. It’s also a popular choice at online casinos that serve this nation.
What do Indians like so much about baccarat? I’ve never seen any interviews on the subject, so I’ll just assume that they love what China does about this game.
- It has a low house edge.
- The strategy is simple.
- The gameplay is simple.
Baccarat only features three bets. These wagers include the player hand winning, the banker hand winning, or both hands tying.
The banker hand is the best proposition, because it only features a 1.06% house edge. This bet wins so often (50.7% of the time) that casinos take a 5% commission out of wins just to maintain their advantage.
The player bet isn’t too shabby either with its 1.24% house edge. Nevertheless, optimal baccarat strategy calls on one to place the banker bet every time.
As for the gameplay, gamblers merely need to place one of the aforementioned three wagers. This is literally the only decision one must make to play baccarat.
Where Does Baccarat Rank in India’s Casino Hierarchy?
Assessing baccarat’s popularity in India isn’t quite so easy as it is in China. But based on the information I’ve gathered, baccarat is the second most popular casino game in the country.
Again, baccarat is one of the most frequently featured games in underground dens. It’s also prominent on India-facing online casinos.
Roulette is the only game I’ve noticed to be more popular than baccarat. It’s a staple at illegal casinos throughout the country and comes in multiple variations at India-focused online casinos.
What Other Casino Games Do Indians Love?
Like other countries, India enjoys playing a variety of casino games. Here are some of their favorites beyond baccarat.
As mentioned before, real money roulette is arguably the top casino game in this country. It’s available in American, European, and French formats at India’s online casinos.
Here are the differences between these games:
- American Roulette – Wheel features 38 pockets, including 1-36, zero, and double zero
- European Roulette – Wheel features 37 pockets, including 1-36 and zero
- French Roulette – Same as European roulette, except with the la partage rule added
European roulette is the next best game. It offers a 2.70% house advantage. The only thing that it’s missing is la partage.
American roulette is decidedly the worst game of the bunch. Knowledgeable Indian gamblers stay away from it and its 5.26% house edge.
Aside from baccarat, Andar Bahar (a.k.a. Katti) is the next most popular card game. It’s quite specific to India and isn’t found at many casinos outside of the country.
This game features two or more players. Each gambler bets on if they think the “Andar” or “Behar” side will win.
The dealer lays one card face-up in the middle of the table. They then deal a single card to the Andar and Behar sides.
Players get another chance to place an extra bet. Following this betting round, the dealer continues dealing one card at a time to both sides.
This sequence continues until one side draws a card that matches the value in the middle (suit doesn’t matter).
Almost two decades ago, poker experienced a huge boom in the United States. India is experiencing its own poker boom of sorts right now.
Many Indians are rushing to offshore real money online poker sites to enjoy this game. They’re also frequenting underground land-based poker rooms.
Not surprisingly, Texas holdem is currently the game of choice among Indians. Omaha Hi-Lo and pot-limit Omaha also prove to be popular in this country.
Many gamblers wait the day when either the federal government or more states legalize the game. Until then, Indians will continue playing at unregulated poker sites.
People in India Normally Play Online Baccarat
Going back to baccarat, India’s laws don’t allow for much gambling. The nation’s residents can’t just walk down to the local casino and enjoy this popular game.
Instead, they must seek out alternative means of playing it. The only two baccarat options throughout much of the country include online casinos and the aforementioned underground dens.
The latter are dangerous places. After all, robbers like to target illegal casinos, because the victims have little-to-no recourse.
Unregulated online casinos can occasionally be untrustworthy. These gaming sites don’t operate according to India’s laws.
Nevertheless, offshore casinos represent the most convenient and safest option for Indian baccarat players. This is especially true when dealing with an established and successful operator.
What to Expect From India’s Baccarat Scene in the Future
The Indian gambling market has grown rapidly in recent years. Estimates peg its value at $60 billion per year.
Of course, the government isn’t seeing a cut of this immense action. The federal government and most states haven’t capitalized on the situation.
That said, we should see some big changes regarding baccarat and gambling as a whole in India. Here are some key points to look for in the future.
More Forms of Legal Gambling
India doesn’t take a hardline stance against casino gaming. Their Public Gambling Act of 1867 does state that any type of “gambling house” is considered illegal.
Only horse racing and lotteries are legal. However, this should change as India and its states seek to earn tax revenue from baccarat and other forms of gambling.
Skill Based Games Will Be Better Defined
The Public Gambling Act does exclude “games of mere skill.” The country’s Supreme Court ruled that horse racing betting is predominantly a skill-based activity.
Rummy also received an exemption based on its skill. Meanwhile, poker has received no such ruling.
I suspect that the Supreme Court will put poker in the same category as rummy and horse racing when the time comes.
Baccarat, unfortunately, won’t receive an exclusion in this category. However, more legal card games could end up softening attitudes towards baccarat and other types of casino gaming.
More States Will Legalize Gambling
Goa and Sikkim are the only two Indian states thus far to legalize other forms of gambling beyond lotteries and horse racing.
Goa features both land-based and water-based casinos. Sikkim offers brick and mortar casinos and its own online gaming market.
I fully expect more states to legalize online and/or land-based gambling in the future. Other states will be especially motivated to do so if Sikkim and Goa feature highly successful markets. Legal baccarat could then spread to more places throughout the country.
More Offshore Gambling in the Foreseeable Future
Gaming regulation is moving slowly in India. No states have followed Sikkim and Goa’s lead. The federal government doesn’t appear remotely close to approving casinos on a national level.
That said, offshore online gambling will remain the status quo into the foreseeable future. Unregulated gaming sites at least give Indians some way to enjoy one of the most popular games.
India may not be as heavily into baccarat as China. However, they’re definitely one of the most passionate countries when it comes to the game.
Baccarat is already highly popular at India’s underground casinos and offshore gaming sites. It could be even more popular if it became legal across the country.
Of course, the latter scenario seems to be a long ways off. Until then, Indian gamblers will continue enjoying baccarat through whatever options are available to them—legal or not.