Earlier this month, Sugal & Damani Group announced that they would be shutting down their poker website Khelplay.com. Many Indian poker fans were shocked and dismayed, though they were given the chance to withdraw their balance amount before the due date, or have their balance transferred to their Khelplay rummy account.
Sugal & Damani Group Only Closes Poker Operations
Though the poker brand was closing operations, the rummy variant of the site was still continuing operation. Sugal & Damani Group was a bit vague about the reason for the closure of just the poker site and put it down to ‘business restructuring’. Gaming analysts speculated that it was mostly due to the difficulty in attracting poker players.
The Khelplay site operated with a license from the Nagaland government which gave it permission to operate online skill based games. It was also part of Microgaming’s India Poker Network (IPN) which had three main online rooms for poker, with Khelplay being one of them. The others were Pokernation from the Essel Group and Pokeryaar which is owned by Club Empire Tech.
The move to close down the poker website on March 15 came as a surprise as India’s poker market is growing at a rapid pace. However a week after its closure, news emerged of a potential deal between Sugal & Damani Group and PokerStars – the biggest online poker operator in the world.
Sugal & Damani Group Collaborate With PokerStars
PokerStars recently made an announcement confirming their entrance into the Indian poker market. They have already purchased the PokerStars.in domain and visitors to the site will see a “Coming Soon” sign welcoming them.
The Stars Group, the parent company of PokerStars has been trying to enter the Indian market for the last couple of years. Their main hurdle was the strict gaming laws in India which permits only domestic operators to apply for a license. PokerStars fixed this problem by partnering with the Sugal & Damani Group after finally working out the terms and conditions that both parties could agree on.
It now makes more sense why Sugal & Damani decided to close Khelplay Poker because they decided to partner with PokerStars. Though Khelplay was doing well, PokerStars has the power and the market reputation to become the number one poker website in India. Now that the two companies have joined forces, PokerStars can finally enter India legally and take full advantage of a growing poker market.