The Global Poker League (GPL) recently announced the launch of its second regional league GPL India. The GPL of late has shifted its focus to regional markets seen to have the maximum growth potential for poker. GPL China was unveiled last year even though the original GPL is yet to hold its second season.
Mediarex Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the GPL confirmed the launch of GPL India recently but did not confirm any dates for now. Speaking to a media outlet, Alex Dreyfus founder and CEO of Mediarex said the platform will help popularize poker as a sport in India and bring the country into the global GPL community.
In a statement Dreyfus said, “I think that Indian Poker Industry is very small for now, likely around $50million – it’s almost a niche. But we believe there is a big potential for growth, especially through the skill game/competitive gaming angle. That’s our specialty and expertise. I read that Pokerstars is looking to invest in India, having leading international companies like them coming over will reshape the whole industry, due to their expertise and their marketing budget.”
He pointed out that several favorable conditions were already in place including high mobile penetration, ecommerce usage and a relatively less hostile regulatory environment. Gambling is banned across India except in three state- Goa, Sikkim and Daman. Poker however has become popular in the recent years with numerous poker clubs coming up in major cities like Bengaluru and several online poker websites being launched in the country. Legally some state-level courts have declared poker to be a game of skill and not of chance.
GPL India will however not be the first league to be launched in the country. Two other poker leagues backed by prominent Indian industrialists have already been launched in 2017. The Indian Poker League (IPL) and Poker Sports League (PSL) have already been rolled out and the PSL has already completed a season.
Reacting to the competition, Dreyfus said that he wasn’t very concerned with the competition and estimated that the Indian poker market was currently around $50 million. He believes that it will take a minimum of 3-5 years before poker operators will see any return on investment and believes that some of the poker companies will go out of business during this period as the Indian market would be very competitive.
Dreyfus further noted while he approved of the PSL structure he was not convinced that MatchPoker/IFP model which is being held in India in September would succeed.