India may not be a country of hardcore casino lovers like Macau or Las Vegas. But these days, card games and other online casino games have been flourishing in India. According to KPMG, Online gaming in India is expected to touch Rs. 4380 crore by the end of Financial Year 2018. It is estimated to cross Rs. 11,880 Crore at a CAGR of 22.1% by FY 2023. In this segment, online card games like Poker, Rummy and Teen Patti are expected to see a year-on-year hike of over 50-100%.
Poker garners the cash flow in real money games and Rummy and Teen Patti are the kings of card games in an online casino in India. According to the Supreme Court, Teen Patti and Rummy are the games of skill, and Poker is a kind of mixture of both luck and skills in the country.
Jay Sayta, founder and corporate lawyer of Glaws, an MNC keeping track of online gaming industry in India, said, “Online poker is illegal in Odisha and Assam. In addition, you cannot deposit or withdraw the amount of winning in a bank account based in Telangana or Gujarat. If your withdrawal exceeds Rs. 10000 outside of those states, 30% TDS will be charged to withdraw money legally. But playing on platforms outside India is violating FEMA guidelines and you could bear the penalty for that.”
In India, the online poker space is estimated to stay around Rs. 700 crore and it is getting competitive. The arrival of Pokerstars is one of the new launches and it is known to be one of the biggest platforms for online poker. Based in the Isle of Man, Pokerstars witnessed revenue of $877.3 million in the last financial year. Local platforms are still not bothered by the arrival of international players. Spartan Poker CEO and founder, Amin Rozani added, “We have great expertise and knowledge about the local market. The more the platforms enter into the market, the better it is.”
Along with Poker start-ups, there are some companies also have a stake in this game. Amit Burman, vice-chairman of FMCG leader Dabur invested up to Rs. 20 Cr. to introduce its first ever Poker league in the country. Burman says, “I feel that Poker is not gambling, instead, it is a sport. This is why we have developed a tournament and formed a team where franchises can play against one another. This is how we started Poker Sports League (PSL) two years before.”
More than 11 franchises played in the second season of PSL which finished in June. They distributed prize money of Rs. 4.4 Crore among the winner. Burman adds, “Vishwanathan Anand was the brand ambassador of the event who said Poker is based on skill, not a chance. We will raise the prize money to Rs. 7.25 Crore in next season. He is looking forward to the future of sports in India. We see a lot of professional players in the world who have made poker their full time business. In India, as we host tournaments, parents will start accepting it as a career option and it will be the growth of the game.”